For most of the English-speaking world and certainly for this reader, Roberto Bolano was unknown only a few years ago. Since then, he’s become a literary phenomenon—his novels read, reviewed, discussed, widely praised. Bolano was born in Chile in 1953. He grew up there, in Mexico City and died in Spain at the age of 50 a few years ago.
One of his first books to gain international attention was “The Savage Detectives,” which came out in English in 2007. His most recent, “2666,” was released in English in 2008 and topped many of the year’s “best-of” lists.
Natasha Wimmer translated both of those expansive novels. I spoke to her recently about the books and her role as translator: