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Nazi Literature in the Americas [Hardcover]

Roberto Bolaño , Chris Andrews
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)

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Hardcover --  
Hardcover, 30 May 2008 --  
Paperback £7.59  

Book Description

30 May 2008

Featuring several mass-murdering authors, two fraternal writers at the head of a football-hooligan ring and a poet who crafts his lines in the air with sky writing, Nazi Literature in the Americas details the lives of a rich cast of characters from one of the most extraordinarily fecund imaginations in world literature. Written with acerbic wit and virtuosic flair, this encyclopaedic cavalcade of fictional pan-American authors is the terrifyingly humorous and remarkably inventive masterpiece which made Bolaño famous throughout the Spanish-speaking world.

‘One of the most exhilarating, intense and dangerous voices to emerge from South America . . . [Nazi Literature in the Americas] is a parade of delusional, mediocre, vicious and pitiable poetasters, a scabrous parlour game that reveals much about literature, power and complicity. Very funny indeed.’ Scotland on Sunday

‘The triumphant posthumous entrance of Roberto Bolaño into the English-language literary firmament has been one of the sensations of the decade.’ Sunday Times

‘The best and weirdest kind of literary game . . . This artful alternate history of modern literature, stitched together from loose ends, half-told stories and deft episodes of pastiche, is a strangely profound place to get lost.’ Financial Times

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions (30 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811217051
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811217057
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 14 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,900,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Roberto Bolaño was born in Santiago, Chile, in 1953. He spent much of his adult life in Mexico and in Spain, where he died at the age of fifty. His novel The Savage Detectives was named as one of the ten best books of 2007 by the Washington Post and the New York Times Book Review. His posthumous masterpiece, 2666, won the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Product Description


'The author of 2666 collects a tricksy and satirical set of fictional obituaries of Nazis.' --Sunday Telegraph --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

Nazi Literature in the Americas presents itself as an encyclopaedia of extremely right-wing writers. Composed of short biographies of imaginary pan-American authors (the nations with the most representatives are Argentina, with eight, and the USA, with seven), Nazi Literature describes, in fourteen thematic sections, the writers’ lives, politics, and literary works. It includes bibliographies, cross-references, and an epilogue (‘For Monsters’). Although the writers are invented, they are all carefully and credibly situated in real literary worlds: his characters encounter Allen Ginsberg, Octavio Paz, and Lezama Lima. Remarkably inventive, chilling, and witty, Nazi Literature in the Americas offers keen insights into the workings of an extraordinarily fecund literary imagination. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bolano for Beginners 7 Oct 2010
I bought both 2666 and THE SAVAGE DETECTIVES three years before I actually dared read them. The sheer size was terrifying. Finally - thank God - I summoned up the courage and took them on. When I finished 2666 I almost wept to think that would be no new Bolanos.
Well here`s Bolano for Beginners. Everything Bolano apart from terrifying size : wit, melodrama, horror, history, brilliant characterisation, fake erudition, satire. Part Nabokov`s PALE FIRE, part Borges, part Spinrad`s IRON DREAM Iron Dream (Panther science fiction), part Michael Moorcock`s BYZANTIUM/JERUSALEM novels Byzantium Endures: Between the Wars Vol. 1, but wholly Bolano. Read this, it`ll take a couple of hours, get a taste of the genius, then get on to the hard stuff.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Jennifer Cameron-Smith TOP 500 REVIEWER
At first glance, this book does not appear to be a novel. Instead, it looks like a collection of richly detailed obituaries and bibliographic notes. These could be real people - and that is Bolaño's point entirely. What we read here as fiction could well be representative of literature in an alternate world. While some of the characters depicted are outlandish, others are unsettlingly plausible. Those of us with limited knowledge of 20th century literature in the Americas could well accept fiction as truth, at least for a while.

Fortunately, if you follow the biographical details of the authors carefully, it becomes clear that what could be fact is definitely fiction. While this is a relief, by that stage in the book the possibility of fact has emerged and I found myself wondering about the power of fiction and the role of literature in politics.
The most unsettling of the entries is `The Infamous Ramírez Hoffman'. This is a far longer entry and refers as well to a character named Bolaño who is asked to identify Ramírez Hoffman, a Chilean poet who had been employed by Pinochet's death squads. Here, for a moment at least, the line between fact and fiction is blurred. By introducing himself as a character, Roberto Bolaño grounds this novel in a way which is a confronting reminder of a political reality. And so, neatly, the circle is closed.

Roberto Bolaño (1953-2003) was a Chilean poet and novelist. This is the first of his books I have read. It was first published in Spanish in 1996 and in English in 2008. I will be seeking out his other novels.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Alienating but curious 24 Jun 2010
By Mr. S. D. Mcginty VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book has an odd coherence. It consists of a number of fictional autobiographies, separate lives, of American writers with fascistic tendencies. It weaves them together, or some of them at least, but not in a way that suggests the historiography of the conventional novel. You don't feel an arc, and you don't get a sense of evolution. You get what you are given: dry, but often very poetic and furthermore witty vignettes: a series of bizarre lives, lived in a kind of tragicomic apolitical vacuum. Bolano does not induce the reader to deride the politics of his protagonists, but he does undercut them constaly, obliquely, by taking sharp jabs at their humanity, their conflicted motivations and their consuming passions.

It's an odd book that swings from bathos to pathos and back again, and worth it for the odd and unique experience.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bolaño's homage to Borges 1 Jan 2012
By Paul Bowes TOP 500 REVIEWER
'Nazi Literature in America' is probably best understood as Bolaño's homage to Borges - the young Borges of the ' Historia universal de la infamia', with its concocted biographies of semi-legendary and non-existent criminals. 'Nazi Literature' is a compendium of fictional biographies of right-wing writers from the Americas, written as though from the standpoint of the mid-twenty-first century (a few of the writers are given dates of death as late as 2029). The biographies vary in length and style from a couple of pages to a substantial short story, from dispassionate dictionary entry - albeit with Borgesian adjectival ironies - to first-person narrative. The final story, 'The Infamous Ramirez Hoffman', was reworked into the excellent novella 'Distant Star', published in the same year (1996).

Bolaño's skill here is to allow these fragments of biography to conjure up an entire world in which political violence and literature are intimate bedfellows. The relevance of this perspective to Bolaño's own biography and the experience of many of his contemporaries is obvious, and perhaps one has to be Chilean or Argentinean to fully appreciate some of the ironies here. What is surprising is the way in which Bolaño is able to bring to life an entirely imaginary world through a host of casual details, and to make substantial points about the political and the literary worlds with considerable humour and without resorting to sledgehammer polemics. The 'monsters' he delineates are allowed the human dimensions - and the failures - that are necessary to make them human monstrosities rather than cartoons.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 'Death is ressurection' 26 Jan 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Well, you can't say I'm not giving him a fair crack of the whip. After the thrill of The Savage Detectives came the bruising of 2666 and finally the damp squib that was Amulet; with each successive read pushing me further and further away and even thinking that it might be time for someone to point out that thing about the emperor and his clothes. But I thought I'd give him another chance and Picador do keep producing these rather lovely editions. Presented as a kind of encyclopaedia of fictitious writers with some kind of fascist bent the book is apparently a wicked satire on literary pretension and hypocrisy at both ends of the political spectrum. I say apparently because unless you are sufficiently well versed in the literary figures of the Americas then for the most part this book is like being told joke after joke where you don't understand the punchline. It's a bit like those people who laugh at obscure Shakespearean references and jokes during a performance which lead you to think 'you have made abundantly clear that you understand the cultural hilarity of him having a white hair upon his chin but even when you understand it, it isn't that funny'. For a philistine like me there are odd moments where the jokes are pretty base and accessible and there is the odd pithy line ('A Mexican poet inclined to mysticism and tormented phraseology.') that raises a smile but it isn't until the raised eyebrow is lowered and the arch authorial tone dropped into something more personal with the final portrait that I found something to latch onto. Narrated overtly by 'Bolaño' the thirty or so pages that make up The Infamous Ramirez Hoffman combine art and violence to chilling effect and tap into that era of quiet terror at the beginning of Pinochet's regime in Chile. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Just when I was beginning to get tired of the recent glut of...
... comes a premise too weird/good to resist: an invented encyclopaedia of make-believe fascist/Nazi writers; a series of biographical sketches/ compressed life stories of... Read more
Published on 30 Aug 2012 by Andrew Sutherland
2.0 out of 5 stars Strange effort
This is an odd book that presents a series of biographical accounts of fictional right wing authors in Latin America. Each chapter presents a figure, with sketchy detail. Read more
Published on 15 Nov 2011 by R. Lawson
2.0 out of 5 stars All skin and no banana
This is basically a concept novel. Well, I say "novel". This is basically a concept selection of thematically-linked short stories, many of which are so similar that two days... Read more
Published on 16 Oct 2011 by S. Pollard
3.0 out of 5 stars Imaginative and humourous but way short of The Savage Detectives...
This collection of 30 odd " hagliographies"(obituaries of fictitious Pan American writers of the 20th Century) gives Bolano enormous scope for his imagination but perhaps due to my... Read more
Published on 13 Nov 2010 by Kiwifunlad
2.0 out of 5 stars different
Convincly recreated biographies of imagined South American Natzi authors. This book takes magic realism and pushes it in a new profound direction. Quite hard to read.
Published on 24 Sep 2010 by pete
3.0 out of 5 stars Witty, if puzzling
An odd book: ostensibly a collection of mischieviously sniping obituaries there is nevertheless an underlying thread linking all the characters, eventually forming a "sort of"... Read more
Published on 17 Aug 2010 by Kevin Roche
2.0 out of 5 stars Just clever. But not interesting.
I think it was an intellectual vanity that drew me to this book. I have read a little Jorge Luis Borges and I liked the idea of a fictional but coherent and self-contained world. Read more
Published on 4 July 2010 by F. Pearson
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't judge a book by its cover (or title).
I got this book on the basis of its name alone. There's something about putting the word "Nazi" in the title that probably intrigues people since it's one of the last taboos. Read more
Published on 28 May 2010 by untitled no. 4
4.0 out of 5 stars Seductively plausible
Bolano offers up what appears to be a collection of articles about fascist-leaning writers, all of whom he has imagined (although there are references to real events and people... Read more
Published on 21 May 2010 by Alan Hansen
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