Roberto Bolaño

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Roberto Bolaño (28 April 1953 - 15 July 2003) Chilean novelist, short story writer, and poet. At his death he left a unedited thousand page manuscript entitled 2666.


Last Evenings on Earth (2006)

  • The secret story is the one we'll never know, although we're living it from day to day, thinking we're alive, thinking we've got it all under control and the stuff we overlook doesn't matter. But every single damn thing matters! Only we don't realize. We just tell ourselves that art runs on one track and life, our lives, on another, and we don't realize that's a lie.
    • Dentist
  • We never stop reading, although every book comes to an end, just as we never stop living, although death is certain.
    • Dentist
  • It's strange how things happen, Mauricio Silva, known as the Eye, always tried to escape from 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 twenty years old when Salvador Allende died.
    • Mauricio ('The Eye') Silva
  • One day I heard that The Eye had left Mexico. I wasn't surprised that he hadn't said good-bye. The Eye never said good-bye to anyone. I never said good-bye to anyone either.
    • Mauricio ('The Eye') Silva
  • That night when he went back to his hotel, he wept for his dead children and all the other castrated boys, for his own lost youth, for those who were young no longer and those who died young, for those who fought for Salvador Allende and those who were too scared to fight.
    • Mauricio ('The Eye') Silva


  • ¿Cómo reconocer una obra de arte? ¿Cómo separarla, aunque sólo sea un momento, de su aparato crítico, de sus exégetas, de sus incansables plagiarios, de sus ninguneadores, de su final destino de soledad? Es fácil. Hay que traducirla.
    • How do you recognize a work of art? How can it be kept apart, even if only for a moment, from its critics, commentators, its indefatigable plagiarists, its defacers and its final destiny in solitude? Simple — just translate it.

  • If I were to say what I really think I would be arrested or shut away in a lunatic asylum. Come on, I am sure that it would be the same for everyone.

Quotes about Bolaño

  • The moment we "discover" a favorite writer is like our experience of a cataclysmic event — we can remember precisely where we were and what we were doing when it occurred.... So I assume I'll always recall the doctor's waiting room where I opened a dimpled, out-of-date issue of The New Yorker and found Roberto Bolaño's story "Gómez Palacio."
    For the first time, I was glad the doctor was running late, so I could read the story twice, and still have a few minutes left over to consider the fact that I had just encountered something extraordinarily beautiful and (at least to me) entirely new.
  • Reading Roberto Bolaño is like hearing the secret story, being shown the fabric of the particular, watching the tracks of art and life merge at the horizon and linger there like a dream from which we awake inspired to look more attentively at the world.
    • Francine Prose "The Folklore of Exile", a review of Last Evenings on Earth (2006) in The New York Times (9 July 2006)
  • Bolaño's narrative style is fragmented and loaded. It is also full of a strange kind of gallows humour, as we are swept along by stories that are invented and presented entirely convincingly, only to be suddenly brought up short by a reminder that this has not been done innocently.
    • Nick Caistor in The Guardian
  • Bolaño has a laser eye and a frank, confessional first-person voice as relentless as it is irresistible. His "infra-realism" sears through the book's world-weary characters.... Just behind the nervy, deadpan narrative a total breakdown perpetually looms... Bolaño's writing... is an incantation — against horror, against defeat, against oblivion...
  • By far the most inspiring talent from south of the border since the '70s. A Chilean who lived for years in Mexico and ultimately settled near Barcelona before he died in 2003 at age 50, Bolaño's oeuvre is slowly making its way into English... His hypnotizing style and restless approach to plot are at once refreshing and humbling.

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