2666 is as consummate a performance as any 900-page novel dare hope to be: Bolano won the race to the finish line in writing what he plainly intended, in his self-interrogating way, as a master statement. Indeed, he produced not only a supreme capstone to his own vaulting ambition, but a landmark in what's possible for the novel as a form in our increasingly, and terrifyingly, post-national world…By writing across the grain of his doubts about what literature can do, how much it can discover or dare pronounce the names of our world's disasters, Bolano has proven it can do anything, and for an instant, at least, given a name to the unnamable.
The New York Times Book Review
…think of David Lynch, Marcel Duchamp (both explicitly invoked here) and the Bob Dylan of "Highway 61 Revisited," all at the peak of their lucid yet hallucinatory powers. Bolano's references were sufficiently global to encompass all that, and to interweave both stuffy academia and tawdry gumshoe fiction into this book's monumentally inclusive mix.
The New York Times
Last year's The Savage Detectives by the late Chilean-Mexican novelist Bolaño (1953-2003) garnered extraordinary sales and critical plaudits for a complex novel in translation, and quickly became the object of a literary cult. This brilliant behemoth is grander in scope, ambition and sheer page count, and translator Wimmer has again done a masterful job.
The novel is divided into five parts (Bolaño originally imagined it being published as five books) and begins with the adventures and love affairs of a small group of scholars dedicated to the work of Benno von Archimboldi, a reclusive German novelist. They trace the writer to the Mexican border town of Santa Teresa (read: Juarez), but there the trail runs dry, and it isn't until the final section that readers learn about Benno and why he went to Santa Teresa. The heart of the novel comes in the three middle parts: in "The Part About Amalfitano," a professor from Spain moves to Santa Teresa with his beautiful daughter, Rosa, and begins to hear voices. "The Part About Fate," the novel's weakest section, concerns Quincy "Fate" Williams, a black American reporter who is sent to Santa Teresa to cover a prizefight and ends up rescuing Rosa from her gun-toting ex-boyfriend. "The Part About the Crimes," the longest and most haunting section, operates on a number of levels: it is a tormented catalogue of women murdered and raped in Santa Teresa; a panorama of the power system that is either covering up for the real criminals with its implausible story that the crimes were all connected to a German national, or too incompetent to find them (or maybe both); and it is a collection of the stories of journalists, cops,murderers, vengeful husbands, prisoners and tourists, among others, presided over by an old woman seer.
It is safe to predict that no novel this year will have as powerful an effect on the reader as this one. (Nov.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Life and art, death and transfiguration reverberate with protean intensity in the late (1953–2003) Chilean author's final work: a mystery and quest novel of unparalleled richness.
Published posthumously in a single volume, despite its author's instruction that it appear as five distinct novels, it's a symphonic envisioning of moral and societal collapse, which begins with a mordantly amusing account ("The Part About the Critics") of the efforts of four literary scholars to discover the obscured personal history and unknown present whereabouts of German novelist Benno von Archimboldi, an itinerant recluse rumored to be a likely Nobel laureate. Their searches lead them to northern Mexico, in a desert area notorious for the unsolved murders of hundreds of Mexican women presumably seeking freedom by crossing the U.S. border. In the novel's second book, a Spanish academic (Amalfitano) now living in Mexico fears a similar fate threatens his beautiful daughter Rosa. It's followed by the story of a black American journalist whom Rosa encounters, in a subplot only imperfectly related to the main narrative. Then, in "The Part About the Crimes," the stories of the murdered women and various people in their lives (which echo much of the content of Bola-o's other late mega-novel The Savage Detectives) lead to a police investigation that gradually focuses on the fugitive Archimboldi. Finally, "The Part About Archimboldi" introduces the figure of Hans Reiter, an artistically inclined young German growing up in Hitler's shadow, living what amounts to an allegorical representation of German culture in extremis, and experiencing transformations that will send him halfway around the world; bringhim literary success, consuming love and intolerable loss; and culminate in a destiny best understood by Reiter's weary, similarly bereaved and burdened sister Lotte: "He's stopped existing." Bola-o's gripping, increasingly astonishing fiction echoes the world-encompassing masterpieces of Stendhal, Mann, Grass, Pynchon and Garc'a Márquez, in a consummate display of literary virtuosity powered by an emotional thrust that can rip your heart out.
Unquestionably the finest novel of the present century—and we may be saying the same thing 92 years from now.
“Extraña y maravillosa, divertida hasta lo imposible, cargada de melancolía y horror”.
—Los Angeles Times
“El Gabriel García Márquez de nuestro tiempo: un hombre políticamente comprometido, formalmente osado y salvajemente imaginativo.... Bolaño se ha convertido en uno de los inmortales”.
—The Washington Post
“Una obra de un poder y complejidad devastadores, una declaración final digna de un maestro”.
“El logro más audaz de Bolaño…. Una obra atrevida como pocas. Da al traste con la frontera entre el afán lúdico y la seriedad”.
“Una obra maestra... el acontecimiento literario más electrizante del año”.
“Una aventura épica, desquiciante y cautivadora…”
—The New York Times
Four European scholars, interested in obscure novelist Benno von Archimboldi's works, look for him in the northern Mexico border city Santa Teresa.