An examination of the novels, short story collections, and poetry of the Latin American author
In Understanding Roberto Bolaño, Ricardo Gutiérrez-Mouat offers a comprehensive analysis of this critically acclaimed Chilean poet and novelist whose work brought global attention to Latin American literature in the 1960s unseen since the rise of García Márquez and magic realism. Best known for The Savage Detectives, winner of the Rómulo Gallegos Prize; the novella By Night in Chile; and the posthumously published novel 2666, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, Bolaño died in 2003 just as his reputation was becoming established.
After a brief biographical sketch, Gutiérrez-Mouat chronologically contextualizes literary interpretations of Bolaño’s work in terms of his life, cultural background, and political ideals. Gutiérrez-Mouat explains Bolaño’s work to an English-speaking audience—including his relatively neglected poetry—and conveys a sense of where Bolaño fits in the Latin American tradition. Since his death, eleven of novels, four short story collections, and three poetry collections have been translated into English.
The afterword addresses Bolaño’s status as a Latin American writer, as the former literary editor of El País claimed, “neither magical realist, nor baroque nor localist, but [creator of] an imaginary, extraterritorial mirror of Latin America, more as a kind of state of mind than a specific place.”