The always brilliant pica has an entry up on Roberto Bolaño’s La literatura nazi en America, soon to be translated for us non-Spanish speakers. What with the recent fuss over Bolano, I’m glad that the rest of his work has been deemed worthy of translation. I was much impressed by By Night in Chile, and indications are that his work was extremely heterogeneous, so a number of surprises await. One unifying thread, however, seems to be literature’s complicity in mortal crimes and political horrors. As English, French, and West German writers seem often to have dealt with this theme from too theoretical a standpoint (see Coetzee, Blanchot, Grass, etc.), the visceral approach of Latin American writers like Bolano and Augusto Roa Bastos makes a necessary counterweight.
Now, who’s going to translate Dmitry Galkovsky?
Update: My admin informs me that comments have now been repaired. In the meantime, Posthegemonic Musings takes issue with quite a bit of what I’ve said here. I’ll say more later, but I still believe there is a difference between works like Coetzee’s dry statement of colonialism, Foe and Grass’s endlessly discursive The Rat, and the much more immanent horror displayed in Bolano’s By Night in Chile. There are more exceptions (Lins, Cortazar, Lispector, for example) than there are exemplars, but Bolano and Roa Bastos still share more with the Eastern European trend of authors like Vaculik and Krleza than they do with the political literature of many other regions. Not that they aren’t theoretical, but they seem to be more talented at not letting the theory overwhelm the story.