An Interview With Natasha Wimmer

August 18, 2010

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.

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