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A novel of truly international stature
on 12 May 2003
Forget Isabel Allende - Roberto Bolano's casutic, brilliant, satirical novel is far and away the best thing produced by a Chilean author since Neruda's lyrical poetry.
This short, haunting novel is narrated by a Chilean priest and sometime literary critic on what he takes to be the last night of his life. It is filled with strange cameo experiences, surreal memories (such as teaching Marxism to Pinochet and his junta), and is also deeply memorable for the way it unpicks the "normality" of the years of the Chilean military government, and unmasks the brutality which lay beneath the veneer.
Through Chile's particular story, Bolano achieves a truly global theme - that of how the sordid, terrible, brutal suffocation of the world's dispossessed goes on all the time while "normal life" continues. In doing so, he also takes hilarious sidesweeps at Catholic Chile, at the Chilean literarty establishment, and at literary conventions.
The brilliant reviews in the Spanish press were richly deserved - go out and buy this book and introduce yourself to a new master of international fiction; someone whose short novel masks prodigious range and brilliance - streets ahead of anything by contemporary British authors.