Last Evenings on Earthby Roberto Bolaño
The first short-story collection in English by the acclaimed Chilean author Roberto Bolano. Winner of a 2005 PEN Translation Fund Award."The melancholy folklore of exile," as Roberto Bolano once put it, pervades these fourteen haunting stories. Bolano's narrators are usually writers grappling with private (and generally unlucky) quests, who typically speak in/p>
The first short-story collection in English by the acclaimed Chilean author Roberto Bolano. Winner of a 2005 PEN Translation Fund Award."The melancholy folklore of exile," as Roberto Bolano once put it, pervades these fourteen haunting stories. Bolano's narrators are usually writers grappling with private (and generally unlucky) quests, who typically speak in the first person, as if giving a deposition, like witnesses to a crime. These protagonists tend to take detours and to narrate unresolved efforts. They are characters living in the margins, often coming to pieces, and sometimes, as in a nightmare, in constant flight from something horrid.
In the short story "Silva the Eye," Bolano writes in the opening sentence: "It's strange how things happen, Mauricio Silva, known as The Eye, always tried to escape violence, even at the risk of being considered a coward, but the violence, the real violence, can't be escaped, at least not by us, born in Latin America in the 1950s, those of us who were around 20 years old when Salvador Allende died."
Set in the Chilean exile diaspora of Latin America and Europe, and peopled by Bolano's beloved "failed generation," the stories of Last Evenings on Earth have appeared in The New Yorker and Grand Street.
The New York Times
Bolaño (1953-2003), a Chilean poet and novelist, fled his homeland during Pinochet's coup and spent the rest of his life in Mexico, France, and Spain. As his work appears in English, his stature grows; this year has already marked the arrival of his novel The Savage Detectives(LJ1/07), hailed as a masterpiece in the Spanish-speaking world. This collection contains 14 short stories selected from two volumes, Llamadas telefónicas(1997) and Putas asesinas(2001). Many of the stories feature protagonists with names derived from the author's (Arturo Belano or simply "B") who publish minor works of literature, teach writing workshops, and drift through relationships and locales. Bolaño is playful and humorous when he touches on the absurdities of everyday life, but the stories have a dark undercurrent; nearly all are colored by the theme of exile and its often tragic aftermath. While his plots are skimpy and he doesn't display much range, Bolaño's writing is insidious and may prove to be highly influential. Recommended for larger fiction collections.
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Meet the Author
Author of 2666 and many other acclaimed works, Roberto Bolaño (1953-2003) was born in Santiago, Chile, and later lived in Mexico, Paris, and Spain. He has been acclaimed “by far the most exciting writer to come from south of the Rio Grande in a long time” (Ilan Stavans, The Los Angeles Times),” and as “the real thing and the rarest” (Susan Sontag). Among his many prizes are the extremely prestigious Herralde de Novela Award and the Premio Rómulo Gallegos. He was widely considered to be the greatest Latin American writer of his generation. He wrote nine novels, two story collections, and five books of poetry, before dying in July 2003 at the age of 50.
The poet Chris Andrews teaches at the University of Western Sydney, Australia, where he is a member of the Writing and Society Research Center. He has translated books by Roberto Bolaño and César Aira for New Directions.
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This is a terrific short story collection to introduce the author to those of us who didn't know Bolano before all the buzz about 2666. If you like Borges and especially Cortazar, I think you'll like these stories. The Nobel committee is right- we North American readers are too insular. There's a lot of terrific Latin American literature that we've been missing.