By Night in Chile
As through a crack in the wall, By Night in Chile's single night-long rant provides a terrifying, clandestine view of the strange bedfellows of Church and State in Chile. This wild, eerily compact novel Roberto Bolano's first work available in English recounts the tale of a poor boy who wanted to be a poet, but ends up a half-hearted Jesuit priest and a conservative literary critic, a sort of lap dog to the rich and powerful cultural elite, in whose villas he encounters Pablo Neruda and Ernst Junger. Father Urrutia is offered a tour of Europe by agents of Opus Dei (to study "the disintegration of the churches," a journey into realms of the surreal); and ensnared by this plum, he is next assigned after the destruction of Allende the secret, never-to-be-disclosed job of teaching Pinochet, at night, all about Marxism, so the junta generals can know their enemy. Soon, searingly, his memories go from bad to worse. Heart-stopping and hypnotic, By Night in Chile marks the American debut of an astonishing writer."
- Paperback | 118 pages
- 134.62 x 200.66 x 15.24mm | 181.44g
- 17 Dec 2003
- New Directions Publishing Corporation
- New York, United States
In Chris Andrews's lucid translation, Bolano's febrile narrative tack and occasional surrel touches bring to mind the classics of Latin American magic realism; his cerebral protagonist and nonfiction borrowings are reminiscent of Thomas Bernhard and W. G. Sebald. The novel, Bolano's first to be translated into English, is at once occasion for celebration and for mourning.