The late Chilean novelist has taken the literary world by storm in recent years. And it seems that now, with the posthumous publication of his novel, 2666, that storm will take on gale force. I have only read his Distant Star, which I loved . . . but this rave review has me chomping at the bit to read his latest. It is rare to find such an ecstatic review of current fiction.
An excerpt from Jonathan Lethem’s review:
In the literary culture of the United States, Bolaño has become a talismanic figure seemingly overnight. The “overnight” is the result of the compressed sequence of the translation and publication of his books in English, capped by the galvanic appearance, last year, of “The Savage Detectives,” an eccentrically encompassing novel, both typical of Bolaño’s work and explosively larger, which cast the short stories and novellas that had preceded it into English in a sensational new light. By bringing scents of a Latin American culture more fitful, pop-savvy and suspicious of earthy machismo than that which it succeeds, Bolaño has been taken as a kind of reset button on our deplorably sporadic appetite for international writing, standing in relation to the generation of García Márquez, Vargas Llosa and Fuentes as, say, David Foster Wallace does to Mailer, Updike and Roth. As with Wallace’s “Infinite Jest,” in “The Savage Detectives” Bolaño delivered a genuine epic inoculated against grandiosity by humane irony, vernacular wit and a hint of punk-rock self-effacement. Any suspicion that literary culture had rushed to sentimentalize an exotic figure of quasi martyrdom was overwhelmed by the intimacy and humor of a voice that earned its breadth line by line, defying traditional fictional form with a torrential insouciance.
Well, hold on to your hats.
Latin America has given us great literary riches. Though it seems that The Boom has died down somewhat as of late. Bolaño is one of several emerging voices invigorating the post-Boom generation.