Appreciation of this Chilean novelist and poet has increased dramatically since his death at the age of 50 in 2003. First translations to English continue to be published, dazzling the English-speaking world.
Chris Andrews, translator of numerous stories by Bolaño, dissected the Bolaño phenomenon with freelance writer Hugo Bowne-Anderson and participating chair Don Anderson, in a Sunday 23 May session at the Sydney Writers’ Festival 2010.
Writer Mark Mordue, on his website The Basement Tapes, describes him thus:
“Roberto Bolano, Chilean born refugee of the Pinochet regime, Mexico inspired joker and dark-eyed dreamer, novelist and short story writer extraordinaire. Wild and original (and that don’t happen nearly as often as it is claimed), with a pattern grabbing recklessness like no other.
Check out Last Evenings on Earth first and keep diving in. I’ve never read anyone who can map your head so well, those perceptual shifts and intuitions and obsessions that are so much a part of living with other people and yourself. He’s also pretty funny when he wants to be.
If you don’t mind sloppy generalisations, I’d describe him as a South American Jack Kerouac, a free genius at the hub of a whole cultural shift in the language and what it can do, and perhaps more importantly, what it’s feeling. Though as soon as I write that I think, No, that’s not right, he’s more like a politicised, ghetto-dwelling F. Scott Fitzgerald yearning for his own green light, or a Jorge Luis Borges caught in a hippie Charles Bukowki’s life, or…. what is he? Someone looking for a home? Some peace of mind? The guy is a planet all to himself, a singer for lost souls.”