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Last Evenings on Earthby Roberto Bolano
When he died in 2003, at the age of 50, Roberto Bolaño was all but unknown anywhere north of the Rio Grande, yet he is now acclaimed internationally and considered among the most eminent figures in Latin American letters. Chilean by birth, but living in exile throughout much of his life, Bolaño had always been a dedicated writer, yet began publishing with increasing fervor in the mid-1990s. Like much of his work, including the incomparable epic The Savage Detectives, Last Evenings on Earth is a bold, singular effort that defies easy classification. Many of the fourteen stories contained in Last Evenings are incisive, yet existentially enigmatic, tales of writers longing to discover the elusive answers to questions of craft and self, some of which turn out to be ambiguous at best. Often somber, even haunting, these short stories unfurl in the low-lit peripheries of prescience and immediacy that Bolaño most likely knew all too well.
Synopses & Reviews
"The melancholy folklore of exile," as Roberto Bolaño once put it, pervades these fourteen haunting stories. Bolano's narrators are usually writers grappling with private (and generally unlucky) quests, who typically speak in the first person, as if giving a deposition, like witnesses to a crime. These protagonists tend to take detours and to narrate unresolved efforts. They are characters living in the margins, often coming to pieces, and sometimes, as in a nightmare, in constant flight from something horrid.
In the short story "Silva the Eye," Bolaño writes in the opening sentence: "It's strange how things happen, Mauricio Silva, known as The Eye, always tried to escape 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 20 years old when Salvador Allende died."
Set in the Chilean exile diaspora of Latin America and Europe, and peopled by Bolaño's beloved "failed generation," the stories of Last Evenings on Earth have appeared in The New Yorker and Grand Street.
"I am addicted to the haze that floats above Bolaño's fiction." Wayne Kostenbaum
"The most influential and admired novelist of his generation in the Spanish-speaking world."Bookforum
"Just behind the nervy, deadpan narrative a total breakdown perpetually looms." Susan Sontag
"Brilliant. Village Voice
"Widely known in the Spanish-speaking world as the premier writer of his generation." Kirkus Reviews
The first short-story collection in English by the acclaimed Chilean author Roberto Bolaño. Winner of a 2005 PEN Translation Fund Award.
About the Author
Author of 2666 and many other acclaimed works, Roberto Bolaño (1953-2003) was born in Santiago, Chile, and later lived in Mexico, Paris, and Spain. He has been acclaimed “by far the most exciting writer to come from south of the Rio Grande in a long time” (Ilan Stavans, The Los Angeles Times),” and as “the real thing and the rarest” (Susan Sontag). Among his many prizes are the extremely prestigious Herralde de Novela Award and the Premio Rómulo Gallegos. He was widely considered to be the greatest Latin American writer of his generation. He wrote nine novels, two story collections, and five books of poetry, before dying in July 2003 at the age of 50.
Chris Andrews has won the TLS Valle Inclán Prize and the PEN Translation Prize for his New Directions translations of Roberto Bolaño. A poet who lives and teaches in Australia, he has translated eight Bolaño books and three novels by César Aira for New Directions.
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