ROBERTO BOLA O was born in Santiago, Chile, in 1953, and grew up in Chile and Mexico City. His first full-length novel, The Savage Detectives, received the Herralde Prize and the Romulo Gallegos Prize when it appeared in 1998. He died in Blanes, Spain, at the age of fifty.
This sprawling, digressive, Jamesian "loose, baggy monster" reads like five independent but interrelated novels, connected by a common link to an actual series of mostly unresolved murders of female factory workers in the area of Ciudad Juùrez (here called Santa Teresa), a topic also addressed in Margorie AgosIn's Secrets in the Sand. The first part follows four literary critics who wind up in Mexico in pursuit of the obscure (and imaginary) German writer Benno von Archimboldi, a scenario that recalls Bolano's The Savage Detectives. The second and third parts, respectively, focus on Professor Almafitano and African American reporter Quincy Williams (also called Oscar Fate), whose attempts to expose the murders are thwarted. The fourth, and by far the longest, section consists mostly of detached accounts of the hundreds of murders; culled from newspaper and police reports, they offer a relentless onslaught of the gruesome details and become increasingly tedious. The last section returns to Archimboldi. Boasting Bolano's trademark devices--ambiguity, open endings, characters that assume different names, and an enigmatic title, along with splashes of humor--this posthumously published work is consistently masterful until the last half of the final part, which shows some haste. The book is rightly praised as Bolano's masterpiece, but owing to its unorthodox length it will likely find greater favor among critics than among general readers. In fact, before he died, the author asked that it be published in five parts over just as many years; it's a pity his relatives refused to honor his request. [Also available in a three-volume slip-cased paperback edition.]--Lawrence Olszewski, OCLC Lib., Dublin, OH Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
"A masterpiece...the most electrifying literary event of the year." --Lev Grossman, Time "Indeed, Bola o 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, postnational world." --Jonathan Lethem, The New York Times Book Review "A work of devastating power and complexity, a final statement worthy of a master." --Adam Mansbach, The Boston Globe "Bola o's most audacious performance . . . It is bold in a way that few works really are--it kicks away the divide between playfulness and seriousness." --Henry Hitchings, Financial Times (UK) "The opening of 2666 had me in its thrall from those first few pages . . . For all the precision and poetry of its language, for all the complexity of its structure, for all the range of styles and genres it acknowledges and encompasses, for all its wicked humor, its inventiveness, and sophistication, 2666 seems like the work of a literary genius." --Francine Prose, Harper's Magazine "Bola o's masterwork . . . An often shockingly raunchy and violent tour de force (though the phrase seems hardly adequate to describe the novel's narrative velocity, polyphonic range, inventiveness, and bravery) based in part on the still unsolved murders of hundreds of women in Ciudad Ju rez, in the Sonora desert near the Texas border." --FRANCISCO GOLDMAN, The New York Review of Books "Not just the great Spanish-language novel of [this] decade, but one of the cornerstones that define an entire literature." --J. A. MASOLIVER R DENAS, La Vanguardia "One of those strange, exquisite, and astonishing experiences that literature offers us only once in a very long time . . . to see . . . a writer in full pursuit of the Total Novel, one that not only completes his life's work but redefines it and raises it to new dizzying heights." --RODRIGO FRES N, El Pa s "Bolano's savoir-faire is incredible ... The exploded narrative reveals a virtuosity that we rarely encounter, and one cannot help being bowled over by certain bravura passages--to single one out, the series of reports describing murdered young women, which is both magnificent and unbearable. We won't even mention the 'resolution' of this infernal 2666, a world of a novel in which the power of words triumphs over savagery." --Baptiste Liger, L'EXPRESS "Splendid . . . The jaw-dropping synthesis of a brief but incredibly fertile career." --Fabrice Gabriel, LES INROCKUPTIBLES "The event of the spring: with 2666 Roberto Bolano has given us his most dense, complex, and powerful novel, a meditation on literature and evil that begins with a sordid newspaper item in contemporary Mexico." --Morgan Boedec, CHRONIC ART "Including the imaginary and the mythic alongside the real in his historiography, without ever dabbling in the magical realism dear to many of his Latin-American peers, Bolano strews his chronicle with dreams and visions. As in the films of David Lynch (with whom Bolano's novel shares a certain kinship) these become a catalyst for reflection . . . In such darkness, one must keep one's eyes wide open. Bolano invites us to do just that." --Sabine Audrerie, LA CROIX "An immense moment for literature . . . With prodigious skill and his inimitable art of digression, Bolano leads us to the gates of his own hell. May he burn in peace." --TECHNIKART "Bolano constructs a chaos that has an order all its own . . . The state of the world today transmuted into literature." --Isabelle Ruf, LE TEMPS "To confront the reader with the horror of the contemporary world was Bolano's guiding ambition. He succeeded, to say the least. Upset, shocked, sometimes even sickened, at times one is tempted to shut the book because it's unbearable to read. Don't shut it. Far from being a blood-and-guts thriller meant to entertain, 2666 is a 'visceral realist' portrait of the human condition in the twenty-first century." --Anna Topaloff, MARIANNE "On every page the reader marvels, hypnotized, at the capacity of this baroque writer to encompass all literary genres in a single fascinating, enigmatic story. No doubt many readers will find 2666 inexhaustible to interpretation. It is a fully realized work by a pure genius at the height of his powers." --LIRE "His masterpiece . . . Bolano borrows from vaudeville and the campus novel, from noir and pulp, from science fiction, from the Bildungsroman, from war novels; the tone of his writing oscillates between humor and total darkness, between the simplicity of a fairytale and the false neutrality of a police report." --Minh Tran Huy, LE MAGAZINE LITTERAIRE (Paris) "The book explores evil with irony, without any theory or resolution, relying on storytelling alone as its saving grace... Each story is an adventure: a fresco at once horrifying, delicate, grotesque, redundant, and absurd, revealed by the flashlight of a child who stands at the threshold of a cave he will never leave." --Philippe Lancon, LIBERATION "If THE SAVAGE DETECTIVES recounted the end of a century of avant-gardes and ideological battles, 2666, more radically, evokes the end of humanity as we know it. Apocalyptic in this sense, wavering between decomposition and totality, endlessly in love with people and books, Bolano's last novel ranges over the world and history like the knight Percival, who in Bolano's words 'wears his fool's motley underneath his armor.'" --Fabienne Dumontet, LE MONDE DES LIVRES (Paris) "A work of genius: a work of immense lucidity and narrative cunning, written with a unique mixture of creative power and intimate existential desperation, the work of a master whose voice has all the authority and seeming effortlessness that we associate with the great classics of the ages ... It is impossible to read this book without feeling the earth shift beneath one's feet. It is impossible to venture deep into writing so unforgiving without feeling inwardly moved--by a shudder of fear, maybe even horror, but also by its need to pay attention, by its desire for clarity, by its hunger for the real." --Andres Ibanaz, BLANCO Y NEGRO "Without a doubt the greatest of Bolano's productions . . . The five parts of this masterwork can be read separately, as five isolated novels; none loses any of its brilliance, but what's lost is the grandeur that they achieve in combination, the grandeur of a project truly rare in fiction nowadays, one that can be enjoyed only in its totality." --Ana Maria Moix, EL PAIS "Make no mistake, 2666 is a work of huge importance . . . a complex literary experience, in which the author seeks to set down his nightmares while he feels time running out. Bolano inspires passion, even when his material, his era, and his volume seem overwhelming. This could only be published in a single volume, and it can only be read as one." --EL MUNDO "An absolute masterpiece ... Bolano writes almost without adjectives, but in his prose this leads to double meanings. The narration is pure metonymy: it omits feelings in favor of facts. A phone call or a sex act can express real tragedy, the sweep of the vast human condition." --Andres Lomena, LA OPINION DE MALAGA