Nazi Literature in the AmericasHardback
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- Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
- Format: Hardback | 280 pages
- Dimensions: 142mm x 206mm x 25mm | 408g
- Publication date: 30 May 2008
- Publication City/Country: New York
- ISBN 10: 0811217051
- ISBN 13: 9780811217057
- Sales rank: 427,299
Composed of short biographies about imaginary writers from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Columbia, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, and the USA, Nazi Literature in the Americas includes descriptions of the writers' works, cross references, a bibliography, and also an epilogue ("For Monsters"). All the writers are carefully and credibly situated in real literary worlds. There are fourteen thematic sections with titles such as "Forerunners and Figures of the Anti-Enlightenment," "Magicians, Mercenaries and Miserable Individuals," and "North American Poets." Brisk and pseudo-academic, Nazi Literature in the Americas delicately balances irony and pathos. Bolano does not simply use his writers for target practice: in the space of a few pages he manages to sketch character portraits that are often pathetically funny, sometimes surprisingly moving, and, on occasion, authentically chilling. A remarkably inventive, funny, and disquieting sui generis novel, Nazi Literature in the Americas offers a clear view into the workings of one of the most extraordinarily fecund literary imaginations of our time.
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By Mark Thwaite 10 Dec 2008
2007 was a breakthrough year for the Chilean novelist and poet Roberto Bolano. Well-known and well-respected in the Spanish-speaking world for many years, it was only with the publication of Natasha Wimmer's English language translation of The Savage Detectives that he began to achieve the much wider acclaim that a writer of his skill and invention deserves. It is the excellent American independent publisher New Directions who must be congratulated for having championed Bolano for so many years. Before The Savage Detectives brought Bolano to such a large readership New Directions had already published four of his other titles: Amulet, Distant Star, Last Evenings On Earth and By Night In Chile. And now we have Bolano's compelling, unsettling, odd and brilliant Nazi Literature in the Americas (superbly translated by Chris Andrews) to add to a growing list of his unmissable must-read books.
Nazi Literature in the Americas was first published in 1996 and with its arrival Spanish critics recognized a world class talent. The book is very strange and quite difficult to categorise. It isn't a novel, much less does it present a story, rather it is the imaginary "biographical dictionary of American writers who flirted with or espoused extreme right-wing ideologies in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries". Bolano's cod scholarship describes the life and works of his invented Nazis in some detail, listing their publications, desribing their influences, giving vivid accounts of episodes from their lives. And then we move along to the next writer! Their world is minutely realised, with the connections between some of the writers and their milieux carefully explained. The whole thing is quite baffling and yet totally gripping. It is also often very funny -- Bolano has a wonderful way with bathos -- and shows him to have possessed an encyclopedic mind of a formiddable, Borgesian erudition. You've never read anything like it.
It's a testament to Bolano's skillful prose and vivid characters that his parade of micro-biographies stays fresh throughout. --Luke Sykora"