Lara Anderson reviews 'Roberto Bolaño's Fiction' by Chris Andrews

Lara Anderson reviews 'Roberto Bolaño's Fiction' by Chris Andrews

Roberto Bolaño's Fiction: An Expanding Universe

by Chris Andrews

Columbia University Press, $45.95 hb, 299 pp, 9780231168069

Roberto Bolaño (1953–2003) is the most widely celebrated proponent of a post-boom form of literature from the Southern Cone region of Latin America (Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay), which is characterised by cohesive yet complex narrative worlds. Hailing from a country that endured repressive and violent dictatorial rule for seventeen years, Bolaño’s narrative world is frequently concerned with evil and the agents involved in its unfathomable perpetration.

Since his death in 2003, Bolaño’s reputation as one of Latin America’s literary greats has only grown; many scholars have turned their attention to various aspects of his fictional worlds. Chris Andrews’s book Roberto Bolaño’s Fiction: An Expanding Universe represents the most important contribution to this field of scholarship. The singularity of Andrews’s book lies in its sophisticated and subtle reading of Bolaño’s opus as a whole. Andrews is a prolific Australian translator of Bolaño. Not a translation, An Expanding Universe nevertheless benefits enormously from the in-depth understanding and unique perspective that translators have of their texts. Modest as always, Andrews never makes such claims for himself, but describes translators as ‘slow readers’ who ‘are sometimes haunted by quiet places in a narrative that may seem unremarkable’.

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Lara Anderson

Lara Anderson

Lara Anderson is senior lecturer in the School of Languages and Linguistics at the University of Melbourne. Her main research focus is Spanish culinary culture, from the role of gastronomy in Spain’s fin-de-siècle identity formation to Spanish cookery television shows as a site for gender critique. She also has emerging expertise in Australian food culture and has written on food multiculturalism and culinary xenophobia. 

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