Book Review – “2666” by Roberto Bolano

26662666 by Roberto Bolaño
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve heard this book mentioned in hushed tones in recent years; the way the people refer to “Ulysses” (James Joyce’s that is) i.e. an epic, a revolutionary book.

I sort of agree, but have some nagging doubts. Bolano was Chilean, and wrote in Spanish. So bearing in mind that this is a translation, the first thing that strikes you is the extraordinary beauty and complexity of the language. There are passages that take your breath away. There are passages (like “Ulysses”) which extend a sentence over several pages with little or no punctuation.

It is a very long book (neary 900 pages), and you often wonder where it is going. On the other hand, it is somehow very readable. Split into 5 sections (which may have originally been intended as 5 separate books), it ranges back and forth between continents and periods, with a large cast of characters, making it, at times, difficult to follow.

It primarily traces the life of a fictional obscure novelist, Archimboldi, and the efforts of three academics experts to find him. A large part of the book is set in Mexico in a city with an epidemic of feminicide (based on the real Mexican city of Ciudad Juárez).

I’m glad I read it, and can honestly say I enjoyed it. But I have a nagging doubt that maybe, just maybe, it is highly pretentious.

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3 thoughts on “Book Review – “2666” by Roberto Bolano

  1. I’ve heard of that, not read it. After your review I’m still uncertain. Have you ever read any Proust? If so, how does that compare (in terms of your response)?

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