Carmen Boullosa wrote an insightful article for The Nation back in 2007 about the Infrarealist “scene” of which she was a part in the 1970’s. It includes many Bolaño anecdotes as well as helpful contextual advice for understanding the roots of Infrarealismo. Check it out:


Here’s a New Yorker blog post about navigating Bolaño’s oeuvre.  It’s mostly good advice, except for this unfortunate postscript: “Avoid 2666 for as long as possible”. I would advise you to do the opposite.


January 25, 2012

The New Yorker just published another short story by Bolaño called Labyrinth, available here:

January 24, 2012

As you may have noticed, it has been awhile since I’ve posted any translations. This is because the “Prosa del otoño en Gerona” translations which I was working were officially released last fall by New Directions, tran. Laura Healy.ño/dp/0811219275

I still intend to keep this site around and perhaps occasionally translate any as of yet untranslated Bolaño related material as I find it- something which is becoming rarer and rarer these days.

If anyone knows of any such material, please link to it in a comment or email it to me and I will consider translating it for the site.


A stranger is thrown across the bed. Throughout loveless scenes (inert bodies, sadomasochistic objects, pills and the scowls of the unemployed) you arrive at a moment which you call autumn and you discover the stranger.

In the room, apart from the reflection which swallows everything, you observe rocks, yellow slabs, sand, fur pillows, abandoned pajamas. Then everything disappears.


La desconocida está tirada en la cama. A través de escenas sin amor (cuerpos planos, objetos sadomasoquistas, píldoras y muecas de desempleados) llegas al momento que denominas el otoño y descubres a la desconocida.

En el cuarto, además del reflejo que lo chupa todo, observas piedras, lajas amarillas, arena, almohadas con pelos, pijamas abandonados. Luego desaparece todo.

After his departure from Mexico in 1977, Bolaño spent most of the early 1980’s in Gerona, Spain working odd-jobs like being a dishwasher, campground attendant, bellhop, and garbage collector.  It was during these years that he wrote the poems later came to be collected under the title Prosa del otoño en Gerona (Autumn Prose in Gerona) which have never before been published in English.  Altogether there are 35 prose-poems which form a loosely autobiographical and poetic narrative.  I intend to translate the whole series. We’ll see how far I get.

These poems are untitled, but I have numbered them for ease of organization.



A person – a stranger I should say- that caress you, that jokes with you, who’s sweet to you and carries you to the edge of a precipice. There the character says “ay” or faints. As if he was within a kaleidoscope and saw the eye that watched him. Colors that arrange geometrically far beyond what you are willing to accept as good. Autumn begins like this, between the río Oñar and the colina de las Pedreras.


Una persona – debería decir una desconocida- que te acaricia, que te hace bromas, es dulce contigo y te lleva hasta la orilla de un precipicio. Allí, el personaje dice ay o empalidece. Como si estuviera dentro de un caleidoscopio y viera el ojo que lo mira. Colores que se ordenan en una geometría ajena a todo lo que tú estás dispuesto a aceptar como bueno. Así empieza el otoño, entre el río Oñar y la colina de las Pedreras.

I never realized that the New Yorker keeps parts of its old issues online.   Today I found eight stories which the New Yorker published between 2005 and 2010.  All of these stories are now being re-published in Bolaño’s posthumous collection called The Return, except for “Álvaro Rousselot’s Journey” which appears in The Insufferable Gaucho, and Gomez Palacio which appears in Last Evenings On Earth.

Meeting With Enrique Lihn
William Burns
Prefiguration of Lalo Cura
Álvaro Rousselot’s Journey
Gomez Palacio
The Insufferable Gaucho
Last Evenings On Earth (viewable with subscription only)

Natasha Wimmer translated both The Savage Detectives and 2666.


Scott Esposito: How did you first become familiar with Bolaño’s work, and how did you become the translator of The Savage Detectives?

Natasha Wimmer: I first read The Savage Detectives around the time that Farrar, Straus and Giroux was considering it for publication. I thought it was one of the most exciting books I had read in years, but I didn’t think there was any chance I would get to translate it, because Bolaño already had a great translator—Chris Andrews. But as it happened, Andrews wasn’t able to take on the project, and I was the very fortunate runner-up.

SE: Did you have any particular reasons for wanting to translate Bolaño?

NW: It was clear from the beginning that translating Bolaño was the chance of a lifetime. I felt the way Gregory Rabassa must have felt when One Hundred Years of Solitude fell into his lap. The Savage Detectives wasn’t just an amazing novel—there was also something clearly consequential and new about it. I hadn’t really heard much about Bolaño before I read The Savage Detectives, so the way I felt about it wasn’t shaped by the consensus that was already emerging in the Spanish literary world that Bolaño was the writer of his generation. It was the novel itself that bowled me over.

click here to read the rest…

August 17, 2010

Bolaño on the far right, eating an ice cream cone.

Chris Andrews is the main translator of Bolaño’s smaller works into english (by which I mean most everything except 2666 and The Savage Detectives).


Scott Bryan Wilson: When I read Roberto Bolaño I never feel like or notice that I’m reading a translation. Same for writers like César Aira, Javier Marias, Thomas Bernhard, Raymond Queneau. Is it that these authors inspire enthusiastic translators or do their voices just burst through no matter what?

Chris Andrews: I think the second explanation is right. All the authors you mention have very strong and distinctive voices, and in the cases of Bolaño and Aira, they are also quite robust, which is not to say that they’re easy to translate, but that, as long as the translator doesn’t get in the way too much, the voices will come through loud and clear. I’m glad you feel that way about Queneau too; he’s one of my favorites!

SBW: What do you mean by the translator getting in the way too much?

CA: I mean producing a translation that is unduly distracting, which I guess can happen if it isn’t quite complete, so that the syntactic patterns of the source language creep into the target language a bit too much and make the translation more syntactically odd than the original, or if the translation goes over the top and becomes showy. But I don’t much like pronouncing on this sort of thing because I’m no doubt guilty of under- and over-translating myself, and the whole business of translation studies can be a distraction from the works themselves, which are way more interesting in the end.

click here to read the rest…