While norteamericanos were rereading dog-eared copies of "One Hundred Years of Solitude" and "Love in the Time of Cholera," a dyslexic, globe-trotting high-school dropout and ex-heroin addict was publishing the most celebrated Latin American novels in three decades.
Then, in 2003, he died.
But the reputation of the Chilean-born Roberto Bolaño, whose old pictures make him look like the guitar for a psychedelic garage band, continued to grow: Young Latin writers in particular sang his praises, and he became, in the Spanish-speaking world, the most admired author of his generation. Though he is still mostly unknown in the North, Bolaño's mystique in Latin America combines Allen Ginsberg's (lusty, nomadic poet), Thomas Pynchon's (difficult postmodern polymath) and Norman Mailer's (macho media provocateur).
Now the major works of Bolaño are appearing in the United States for the first time, four years after his death in Spanish Catalonia, at age 50, of a ruined liver. This month, Farrar, Straus & Giroux will publish "The Savage Detectives" — a novel about a gang of young avant-garde poets that combines elements of the gangster film, the road movie and the private-eye story — with plans to bring out the gargantuan "2666" next year.
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Latin American Literature