Nazi Literature in the Americas
A "biographical dictionary" gathering 30 brief accounts of poets, novelists and editors (all fictional) who espouse fascist or extremely right-wing political views.
Nazi Literature in the Americas was the first of Roberto Bolano's books to reach a wide public. When it was published by Seix Barral in 1996, critics in Spain were quick to recognize the arrival of an important new talent. The book presents itself as a biographical dictionary of American writers who flirted with or espoused extreme right-wing ideologies in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It is a tour de force of black humor and imaginary erudition.
Nazi Literature in the Americas is composed of short biographies, including descriptions of the writers' works, plus an epilogue ("for Monsters"), which includes even briefer biographies of persons mentioned in passing. All of the writers are imaginary, although they are all carefully and credibly situated in real literary worlds. Ernesto Pérez Masón, for example, in the sample included here, is an imaginary member of the real Orígenes group in Cuba, and his farcical clashes with José Lezama Lima recall stories about the spats between Lezama Lima and Virgilio Pinera, as recounted in Guillermo Cabrera Infante's Mea Cuba. The origins of the imaginary writers are diverse. Authors from twelve different countries are included. The countries with the most representatives are Argentina (8) and the USA (7).
Praise For Nazi Literature in the Americas…
— Stacey D’Erasmo
It is imaginative, full of a love for literature, and, unlikely as it may seem, exceptionally entertaining.
— Michael Dirda
The wild inventiveness of Bolaño's evocations places them squarely in the realm of Borges—another writer who draws enormous power from the movement between the fictive and the real.
With his meticulous, expertly crafted idiosyncrasies Bolaño has created another universe here, a breathing, thriving world.
— Ben Granger
Masterfully executed…the book is wildly funny… [a] wickedly entertaining and evocative masterwork.
— Robert Leiter
New Directions, 9780811217941, 240pp.
Publication Date: May 29, 2009
About the Author
The poet Chris Andrews teaches at the University of Western Sydney, Australia, where he is a member of the Writing and Society Research Centre. He has translated books by Roberto Bolano and César Aira for New Directions. He has won the Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize for his poetry and the Valle-Inclan Prize for his translations.