Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Roberto Bolaño

Robert Leiter on Roberto Bolaño
Roberto Bolaño's books are suddenly everywhere, which is a fortuitous development for readers who like adventurous fiction. This literary stroke of luck is thanks in good part to the persistence of the estimable and always forward-thinking New Directions publishers. Farrar Straus and Giroux somehow beat out ND for the rights to two of the late Chilean-born novelist's longest and perhaps flashiest works, The Savage Detectives and 2666, and so received considerable media attention when the volumes were published. But it's been ND that's stood by Bolaño for years now, issuing the bulk of his smaller-scale, though highly representative works; and it's now filling in the spaces in the writer's prolific, if brief, career -- he died at age 50 -- by releasing some of his lesser-known prose pieces.
When New Directions brought out Bolaño's scathing, funny Nazi Literature in the Americas early last year, I wrote then that the novelist, a tried-and-true postmodernist (generally not my favorite type of writer), had struck me not only as an exciting talent, but perhaps one of the most profound artists of the second half of the 20th century.
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