Tuesday, July 03, 2007

"The Great Bolaño"

In The New York Review of Books:

When Julio Cortázar, in Hopscotch, portrayed young Latin Americans in Paris, one implication was that Paris was where they had to go to find personal freedom and an interesting and modern way of life. Bolaño has frequently acknowledged a debt to Cortázar's novel, but the Mexico City of The Savage Detectives, for all its local character and danger, has more in common, at least in the manner that the book's comparatively sophisticated and bohemian young characters inhabit it, with cities like New York or Paris than with any traditional Latin American setting. The novel depicts Mexico City during the very years, ironically, that the rest of the world was discovering One Hundred Years of Solitude in translation, a book whose global success had the consequences, which its author could never have foreseen, of creating folksy stereotypes of Latin American life and the association of Latin American literature almost exclusively with magic realism that has endured for nearly forty years.

See my thoughts on Last Evenings on Earth, with excerpts (1, 2).

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