Synopses & Reviews
A tour de force, Amulet is a highly charged first-person, semi-hallucinatory novel that embodies in one woman's voice the melancholy and violent recent history of Latin America.
It is September 1968 and the Mexican student movement is about to run head-on into the repressive right-wing government of Mexico: hundreds of young people will soon die.
When the army invades the university, one woman hides in a fourth-floor ladies' room and for twelve days she is the only person left on campus. Staring at the floor, she recounts her bohemian life among the young poets of Mexico Cityinventing and reinventing freelyand along the way she creates a cosmology of literature. She is Auxilio Lacouture, the Mother of Mexican Poetry.
Auxilio speaks of her passionate attachment to young poets as well as to two beloved aged poets, to a woman who once slept with Che Guevera, and to the painter Remedios Varo, recalling visits which never occured. And as they grow ever more hallucinatory, her "memories" become mythologies before completely transforming into riveting dark prophecies.
Hair-raising and enthralling, Amuletis a heart-breaking novel and another brilliant example of the art of Roberto Bolaño, "the most admired novelist," as Susan Sontag noted, "in the Spanish-speaking world."
"Bolao's work fugues again and again around the confluence of fugitive literary movements and tumultuous political upheavals of '60s and '70s Mexico and Chile. Originally from Montevideo, poet Auxilio Lacouture cleans house in Mexico City for two well-known poets and hangs about the university literary scene doing odd jobs. In September 18, 1968, as the army occupies the campus, arresting and killing people, Auxilio is in the deserted bathroom stalls, obliviously reading poetry; later she becomes famous for being the only one who resists arrest that fateful day. Over years without fixed address or employment, she loses her teeth and befriends the teenage Arturo Belano. Belano eventually returns to Chile at the time of the Allende coup and is imprisoned by Pinochet a political initiation author Bolao experienced himself. Auxilio's first-person narration serves as a medium for lost young voices of revolution, such as the elusive, limping Elena, the Catalan painter Remedios Varo, and Lilian Serpas, who claims she slept with Che Guevara. Auxilio's lyrical prophecies converge in a wrenching tribute to all the voices she has known, tinged with Bolao's luminous pathos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
is a monologue, like Bolano's acclaimed debut in English, . The speaker is Auxilio Lacouture, a Uruguayan woman who moved to Mexico in the 1960s, becoming the "Mother of Mexican Poetry," hanging out with the young poets in the cafés and bars of the University. She's tall, thin, and blonde, and her favorite young poet in the 1970s is none other than Arturo Belano (Bolano's fictional stand-in throughout his books). As well as her young poets, Auxilio recalls three remarkable women: the melancholic young philosopher Elena, the exiled Catalan painter Remedios Varo, and Lilian Serpas, a poet who once slept with Che Guevara. And in the course of her imaginary visit to the house of Remedios Varo, Auxilio sees an uncanny landscape, a kind of chasm. This chasm reappears in a vision at the end of the book: an army of children is marching toward it, singing as they go. The children are the idealistic young Latin Americans who came to maturity in the '70s, and the last words of the novel are: "And that song is our amulet."
A tour de force, is a highly charged first-person, semi-hallucinatory novel that embodies in one woman's voice the melancholy and violent recent history of Latin America.
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.The poet Chris Andrews has translated many books by Roberto Bolaño and César Aira for New Directions.