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(01/15/2015) A Little Lumpen Novelita by Roberto Bolaño. New York. 2014. New Directions. 109 pages.  hardcover. Jacket photograph by Allen Frame. Jacket design by Erik Rieselbach.  Translated from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer.  9780811223355 

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

 

   Published in Spanish right before Bolaño's death, A Little Lumpen Novelita percolates with a fierce and tender love of women. ‘Now I am a mother and a married woman, but not long ago I led a life of crime’: so Bianca begins her tale of growing up the hard way in Rome. Orphaned overnight as a teenager—’our parents died in a car crash on their first vacation without us’—she drops out of school, gets a crappy job, and drifts into bad company. Her younger brother brings home two petty criminals who need a place to stay. As the four of them share the family apartment and plot a strange crime, Bianca learns how low she can fall. Electric and tense with foreboding, with its jagged, propulsive short chapters beautifully translated by Natasha Wimmer, A Little Lumpen Novelita delivers a surprising, fractured fairy tale of seizing control of one’s fate.

 

  Roberto Bolaño (1953-2003) was born in Santiago, Chile. At fifteen, he moved with his family to Mexico and there became a Trotskyite and a journalist. In 1973, he returned to Chile and enlisted in Allende’s party but was imprisoned for a week after the military coup. He then went to El Salvador, where he knew the poet Roque Dalton, then to Mexico, and finally Spain where he worked as a dishwasher, waiter, night watchman, garbageman, longshoreman, and salesman until the 80’s when he could make enough money to support himself by writing, and publishing. In 1999 he won the extremely prestigious Herralde & el Rómulo Gallego Award, considered the Latin American Nobel Prize (García Márquez and Vargas Llosa have been other winners.) He died of liver failure in Barcelona, and is survived by his wife and two children.

 

 

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