I am on a Roberto Bolano kick right now, so excuse this indulgence.
Go and read his books; and, will someone please translate his poetry into english.
Roberto Bolaño belongs to the most select group of Latin-American novelists. Chile of the coup d’état, Mexico City in the 1970s, and the reckless youth of poets are some of his frequent subjects, but he also takes up other themes: César Vallejo’s deathbed, the hardships endured by unknown authors, life at the periphery. Born in Chile in 1953, he spent his teenage years in Mexico and moved to Spain at the end of the seventies. As a poet, he founded the Infrarealist movement with Mario Santiago. In 1999 he won the Rómulo Gallegos Prize, previously awarded to Gabriel García Márquez and Mario Vargas Llosa, for his novel Los detectives salvajes [The savage detectives], for which he also received the prestigious Herralde Prize.
A prolific writer, a literary animal who makes no concessions, Bolaño successfully combines the two basic instincts of a novelist: he is attracted to historical events, and he desires to correct them, to point out the errors. From Mexico he acquired a mythical paradise, from Chile the inferno of the real, and from Blanes, the town in northeast Spain where he now lives and works, he purges the sins of both. No other novelist has been able to convey the complexity of the megalopolis Mexico City has become, and no one has revisited the horrors of the coup d’état in Chile and the Dirty War with such mordant, intelligent writing.
To echo Bolaño’s words, “reading is more important than writing.” Reading Roberto Bolaño, for example. If anyone thinks that Latin-American literature isn’t passing through a moment of splendor, a look through some of his pages would be enough to dispel that notion. With Bolaño, literature—that inexplicably beautiful bomb that goes off and as it destroys, rebuilds—should feel proud of one of its best creations.
Our conversation took place via e-mail between Blanes and my home in Mexico City in the fall of 2001. Read the rest of this entry »