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Roberto Bolaño's Fiction: An Expanding Universe

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Since the publication of "The Savage Detectives" in 2007, the work of Roberto Bolaño (1953--2003) has achieved an acclaim rarely enjoyed in contemporary fiction. Chris Andrews, a leading translator of Bolaño's work into English, explores the singular achievements of the author's oeuvre, engaging with its distinct style and key thematic concerns, incorporating his novels Since the publication of "The Savage Detectives" in 2007, the work of Roberto Bolaño (1953--2003) has achieved an acclaim rarely enjoyed in contemporary fiction. Chris Andrews, a leading translator of Bolaño's work into English, explores the singular achievements of the author's oeuvre, engaging with its distinct style and key thematic concerns, incorporating his novels and stories into the larger history of Latin American and global literary fiction. Andrews provides new readings and interpretations of Bolaño's novels, including "2666," "The Savage Detectives," and "By Night in Chile" while at the same time examining the ideas and narrative strategies that unify his work. He begins with a consideration of the reception of Bolaño's fiction in English translation, examining the reasons behind its popularity. Subsequent chapters explore aspects of Bolaño's fictional universe and the political, ethical, and aesthetic values that shape it. Bolaño emerges as the inventor of a prodigiously effective "fiction-making system," a subtle handler of suspense, a chronicler of aimlessness, a celebrator of courage, an anatomist of evil, and a proponent of youthful openness. Written in a clear and engaging style, Roberto's Bolaño's Fiction offers an invaluable understanding of one of the most important authors of the last thirty years.


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Since the publication of "The Savage Detectives" in 2007, the work of Roberto Bolaño (1953--2003) has achieved an acclaim rarely enjoyed in contemporary fiction. Chris Andrews, a leading translator of Bolaño's work into English, explores the singular achievements of the author's oeuvre, engaging with its distinct style and key thematic concerns, incorporating his novels Since the publication of "The Savage Detectives" in 2007, the work of Roberto Bolaño (1953--2003) has achieved an acclaim rarely enjoyed in contemporary fiction. Chris Andrews, a leading translator of Bolaño's work into English, explores the singular achievements of the author's oeuvre, engaging with its distinct style and key thematic concerns, incorporating his novels and stories into the larger history of Latin American and global literary fiction. Andrews provides new readings and interpretations of Bolaño's novels, including "2666," "The Savage Detectives," and "By Night in Chile" while at the same time examining the ideas and narrative strategies that unify his work. He begins with a consideration of the reception of Bolaño's fiction in English translation, examining the reasons behind its popularity. Subsequent chapters explore aspects of Bolaño's fictional universe and the political, ethical, and aesthetic values that shape it. Bolaño emerges as the inventor of a prodigiously effective "fiction-making system," a subtle handler of suspense, a chronicler of aimlessness, a celebrator of courage, an anatomist of evil, and a proponent of youthful openness. Written in a clear and engaging style, Roberto's Bolaño's Fiction offers an invaluable understanding of one of the most important authors of the last thirty years.

30 review for Roberto Bolaño's Fiction: An Expanding Universe

  1. 4 out of 5

    Pickle Farmer

    This book will be super helpful for my dissertation. I already know right now that my dissertation can only ever hope to aspire to be as 1% good as this book. But I'm cool with that. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on aimlessness, and on the role of duels and violence. Made me want to reread his short stories and shorter novels again--heck, why not reread everything? Bolaño is just so fucking good; I can't get over it, man.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Scott

    I am a big fan of Roberto Bolano. When I saw that there was a new book out about him I picked it up from Net Galley. Chris Andrews is a translator for many of Bolano's works. As a result, he does offer unique insight into his work and the secret behind his writing. He uncovers a bit of the Bolano myth and reveals why he has been so popular after his death. Having read a majority of his work, from 2666 and Savage Detectives to By Night in Chile, I thought that I would be able to follow along to I am a big fan of Roberto Bolano. When I saw that there was a new book out about him I picked it up from Net Galley. Chris Andrews is a translator for many of Bolano's works. As a result, he does offer unique insight into his work and the secret behind his writing. He uncovers a bit of the Bolano myth and reveals why he has been so popular after his death. Having read a majority of his work, from 2666 and Savage Detectives to By Night in Chile, I thought that I would be able to follow along to find the man behind the work. Instead, it is mostly focused on Andrews’ interpretation of his work and why it is successful. While he is certainly the expert, he doesn’t make it where we can follow his logic and it is too granular an examination to really enjoy it. There are certainly a number of mysteries to both Bolano’s writing style and his own mythology. People are likely to assume that much of what he writes is autobiographical. He finds the literary marketers extending the amount of time he was held by the Chilean authorities after the coup d’etat there (it went from the actual three days, to three months, etc.). This kind of information provides more weight to many of his works and short stories. Andrews also discusses about Bolano’s narrative technique, the always threatening violence, and the tension of impending violence that pervade his work. He also demonstrates how Bolano reworks the same characters into different scenarios. The same characters in Savage Detectives, specifically Ulises Lima and Arturo Belano, often pop up in his short stories and novellas. He makes comparisons to Borges and other writers. This is a book for hard core Bolano fans. While this book is revealing to the inner Bolano, it is very narrowly focused on the books Andrews has himself translated. This, of course, seems to be an obstacle since Bolano's most famous works, 2666 and The Savage Detectives, are not as extensively covered. This hinders his references and proofs. He proves his point by hovering around books like Distant Star when most people would only pick this up to help decipher his larger works. This is not to say the book isn't illuminating. He is able to capture the myth of Bolano. As is so common with foreign writers, US readers are enamoured of their background and history, assuming their subjects are more or less autobiographical and this is especially true with Bolano. However, I felt that Andrews takes too close of a look at the work, breaking down characters and dialogue at microscopic level and focusing too much on less well known works like Distant Star. As a result, one would also have to be a Bolano expert to truly appreciate his work, which would defeat the purpose of getting a book to help understand Bolano.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rise

    With this study, Andrews proves himself to be not only a consummate translator of Bolaño's outputs but a wonderful guide to them as well. His careful translations, in fact, are what must be the ballast that allowed for authoritative commentaries on his writer. Blog post: http://booktrek.blogspot.com/2014/06/...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    Mr Andrews leaves the asinine rumors and hyperbole aside and focuses on the hidden structure that permeates much of Bolano's work. Remarkably accessible to the non-academic reader, An Expanding Universe is an essential read for those who are mesmerized by the late writer's prose.

  5. 5 out of 5

    elena

    Excellent introduction, analysis of craft, and close read of Bolaño's work from one of his translators. Super satisfying read, but I didn't finish because I want to read The Savage Detectives next, and Andrews does not warn the reader about spoilers, assuming you're already familiar with Bolaño's body of work.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Muzzy

    Probably the best single-volume critical study on the works of Roberto Bolano.

  7. 5 out of 5

    GONZA

    Even after reading this book, which also does not mention it, I am more and more convinced that there is something very similar between David Foster Wallace and Roberto Bolano; but even after this book, unfortunately, have not yet been able to identify with this quid certainty, so I assume it's just my guess-fetched. Anche dopo la lettura di questo libro, che pure non ne parla, sono sempre piú convinta che ci sia qualcosa di molto simile tra David Foster Wallace e Roberto Bolano, ma anche dopo Even after reading this book, which also does not mention it, I am more and more convinced that there is something very similar between David Foster Wallace and Roberto Bolano; but even after this book, unfortunately, have not yet been able to identify with this quid certainty, so I assume it's just my guess-fetched. Anche dopo la lettura di questo libro, che pure non ne parla, sono sempre piú convinta che ci sia qualcosa di molto simile tra David Foster Wallace e Roberto Bolano, ma anche dopo questo libro, purtroppo, non sono ancora riuscita ad identificare questo quid con certezza, deduco quindi sia solo una mia ipotesi campata in aria. THANKS TO NETGALLEY AND COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESS FOR THE PREVIEW!

  8. 5 out of 5

    endrju

    I don't have much to say except that I would recommend it to all Bolano's fans. The last chapter on Bolano's politics was most interesting to me as I believe it explains a lot about the "void" that structures both 2666 and The Savage Detectives.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    This is a magnificent study of Bolano's work.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Roman Leao

  11. 4 out of 5

    Joel Robert

  12. 4 out of 5

    Roger

  13. 4 out of 5

    Paul Dixon

  14. 4 out of 5

    Manuel

  15. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lee

  17. 4 out of 5

    Andy

  18. 4 out of 5

    Walker

  19. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Balliro

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jim

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mauro

    The chapter on Evil alone was worth the price of admission.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Spencer

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bert Hirsch

  24. 4 out of 5

    A.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tyler

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ariadna73

  27. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Zambrano

  29. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  30. 4 out of 5

    David Morris-Diaz

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