2012 Crime Fiction Alphabet: B is for Bolaño


Lack of time prevents me from writing a more personal post as my contribution to the Crime Fiction Alphabet this week, but I do not want to miss this opportunity without mentioning one of the main XXI century writers in Spanish language, Roberto Bolaño. Roberto Bolaño‘s novels are available in English and you may classify some of his books as crime fiction in a very broad sense. ‘However, he was a literary and marketing phenomenon that far exceeded any category.’ (Teaching college – level Spanish, and others issues).

Born in Santiago, Chile, Roberto Bolaño (1953-2003) moved to Mexico City with his family in 1968. He went back to Chile in 1973, just a month before Pinochet seized power, and was arrested. After his release he returned to Mexico before moving to Paris and then Barcelona. He wrote ten novels and two collections of short stories as well as poetry before he died at the age of fifty, on 15 July 2003. (Words without Borders).

A Bolaño Syllabus

Roberto Bolaño at The Complete Review

I look forward to reading The Savage Detectives, but I might start with, the shorter and more accessible, The Skating Rink, first. Stay tuned.

A spellbinding, sui generis, detective fiction focusing on the swirling vortex of sex, death, and intrigue surrounding a beautiful Spanish figure skating champion

Rife with political corruption, sex, jealousy and frustrated passion, The Skating Rink is a darkly atmospheric chronicle of one summer season in the seaside town of Z, on the Costa Brava, north of Barcelona.

The story revolves around the beautiful figure-skating champion Nuria Marti. When she is suddenly dropped from the Olympic team a besotted admirer builds a secret ice rink for her in the ruins of an old mansion on the outskirts of town. What he doesn’t tell her is that he paid for it using embezzled public funds; but such a betrayal is only the beginning and the skating rink soon becomes a crime scene…

Told in short suspenseful chapters by three alternating male narrators – a corrupt and pompous civil servant, a beleaguered, yet still romantic, itinerant poet, and a duplicitous local entrepreneur – The Skating Rink is a wholly engrossing tale of murder and its motives. (Pan Macmillan Australia)

New Year’s Eve, 1975: Arturo Bolano and Ulises Lima, poets and leaders of a movement they call visceral realism, leave Mexico City in a borrowed white Impala. Their mission: to track down the poet Cesarea Tinajero, who disappeared into the Sonora Desert (and into obscurity) decades before. But the detectives are themselves hunted men, and their search for the past will end in violence, flight, and permanent exile.

In this dazzling novel, the book that established Roberto Bolano’s international reputation, he tells the story of two modern-day Quixotes – the last survivors of an underground literary movement, perhaps of literature itself – on a tragicomic quest through a darkening, entropic universe: our own. The Savage Detectives is, in the words of El Pais, “the kind of novel Borges would have written… An original and magnificent book: funny, moving, important”. (Pan Macmillan Australia)

The Crime Fiction Alphabet 2012 is a Community Meme hosted by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise. By Friday of each week participants try to write a blog post about crime fiction related to the letter of the week. Click HERE to visit the contribution of other participants.  

14 thoughts on “2012 Crime Fiction Alphabet: B is for Bolaño

  1. José Ignacio – One of the best things about this meme is discovering and being reminded of authors whose work I haven’t read deeply or read at all. I am glad you reminded us all of Bolaño’s work.

  2. Jose Ignacio: He sounds like an interesting author. It is sad he died at 50. Having reached 60 in my life it seems much too young to be gone at 50.

  3. This is what I like about the Crime Fiction Alphabet. It’s an easy way to discover new-to-me authors. I’ve just checked my local library catalogue and am pleased (and impressed) that there are 7 of his books in stock. Thanks for the recommendations.

    1. Thanks Margaret. Please take into account that his books are not really crime fiction. I hope the links I provided would help you to find what kind of books will suit you best. Would love to read your opinion and glad that you can find his book in your local library.

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