A member of a family that includes two other accomplished writers (novelist Luis Goytisolo and poet José Agustín), he is one of Spain's most renowned and controversial contemporary authors.
In his texts, autobiography and fiction collide as he rewrites Spain's history through fiction, reclaiming its Jewish and Arab roots, most notably in his narrative trilogy Señas de identidad (1966; Marks of Identity, 1969), Reivindicación del conde don Julián (1970; Count Julián, 1974), and Juan sin tierra (1975; Juan the Landless, 1977). Interested in rereading the Spanish literary canon from a different perspective and intent on forging a genealogy of dissident writers, Goytisolo has composed essays and novels in which appear such so-called heterodox authors as Blanco White (whose work he has edited), the Arcipreste de Hita (author of the Libro de buen amor [1330?; Book of Good Love, 1970]), and San Juan de la Cruz (as in Makbara [1980; trans. 1981] and Las virtudes del pájaro solitario [1988; Virtues of the Solitary Bird, 1991]). He has also authored two volumes of memoirs which have been published in a single, English edition: Coto vedado (1985) and En los reinos de Taifa (1986; Forbidden Territory and Realms of Strife: The Memoirs of Juan Goytisolo, 2003). In them he explores his ancestral links with the Cuban slave trade; a repressive upbringing following the loss of his mother in the Spanish Civil War bombardment of Barcelona (a recurring scene in his work); his relationship with his wife, French writer Monique Lange; the embracing of his homosexuality; and his exile in Paris.
Goytisolo currently lives in Morocco and continues to write essays and articles that analyze Spain's new identity, both as a full-fledged member of the European Union following the Franco dictatorship, and as an ethnically and racially diverse country after recent waves of immigration (as in España y sus Ejidos [2003; Spain and Its Egidos]).
See also Queer Literature in Contemporary Spain.