12 November 2009

Roberto Bolaño – a bibliography

(Updated bibliography at THIS LINK.)

Bolañophile that I am, I have made it a point to read all of the Chilean's works. I have come to anticipate the English translations that are slowly coming in trickles.

I have only ever read Roberto Bolaño (1953-2003) in English. Of the first 8 books I encountered (I have yet to receive my copy of The Skating Rink, the latest publication in English translation, it's on its way now), my favorites thus far are the large novels The Savage Detectives and 2666. As for the small ones, I loved Last Evenings on Earth, Nazi Literature in the Americas, and Amulet, as well as the poems in The Romantic Dogs (review).

Here then is a listing of the works of Bolaño (so far), in chronological order of book publication in Spanish language. The ones in English are highlighted. I took them from various sources available online. The years in which the English translations appeared are also indicated. Anthologies of poetry and stories edited by Bolaño are excluded.

(Updated bibliography at THIS LINK.)

More than 20 works were listed. Several were still unpublished as they were just discovered in the past year ("found" among the author's papers in Spain). What is so impressive about this list is that the bulk of Bolaño's outputs was practically written in the last decade of his life, from 1993 to 2003. To have written that quantity of books in such a short time, and to have sustained a high quality of writing in a variety of forms (novel, novella, poem, essay, book review – it seems the only thing lacking is dramatic play), he must have been a fast and furious writer. He must have hoarded a stockpile of imagination.

A purported last part of 2666 is included among the newly discovered materials. Surely Bolaño never intended this chapter for publication? Otherwise he would have included this in 2666's 'final draft'. He had specifically outlined the contents of the novel and given instructions on how it is to be published, as what the editor mentioned in the book's Afterword.

There also exists a book called Una novelita lumpen (2002). It's strange that no publication date for an English translation was scheduled for it, either from the publisher New Directions or Picador. Whatever the reason (copyright issues?), this book will surely be in the mainstream soon, not only because it is part of brand Bolaño, but because it also has an interesting premise. Here's how it is described in The Columbia Guide to the Latin American Novel Since 1945: "With Una novelita lumpen ... Bolaño changes the setting [of his book, from Chile in By Night in Chile,] to Rome, so his typically extreme characters are now engaged in new types of experiences, including the discovery of some of the best and worst aspects of sexuality."

Extreme characters. New experiences. The best and worst aspects of sexuality. That sounds like a Bolaño, alright.


  1. Hi, Rise! I've only started reading Bolaño this year. I saw a mint condition hardback of The Savage Detectives at National for only Php 100! And I got a new hardback 2666 via a book swap. So far, I'm enjoying 2666, although I'm taking my time with it.

  2. That's great, Peter! Just 100 for TSD - what a find that is!

    And I'm looking forward to your review of 2666. I envy you because I want a hardcover too. My binding is the one in slipcase. Not that I don't want it, it's just that a hardcover is something.

    By the way we just started a Bolaño group in Shelfari. I'm personally inviting you to join us there. Here's the link:


    Hope to see you there.