By Night in Chile
A deathbed confession revolving around Opus Dei and Pinochet, By Night in Chile pours out the self-justifying dark memories of the Jesuit priest Father Urrutia.
As through a crack in the wall, By Night in Chile's single night-long rant provides a terrifying, clandestine view of the strange bedfellows of Church and State in Chile. This wild, eerily compact novel—Roberto Bolano's first work available in English—recounts the tale of a poor boy who wanted to be a poet, but ends up a half-hearted Jesuit priest and a conservative literary critic, a sort of lap dog to the rich and powerful cultural elite, in whose villas he encounters Pablo Neruda and Ernst Junger. Father Urrutia is offered a tour of Europe by agents of Opus Dei (to study "the disintegration of the churches," a journey into realms of the surreal); and ensnared by this plum, he is next assigned—after the destruction of Allende—the secret, never-to-be-disclosed job of teaching Pinochet, at night, all about Marxism, so the junta generals can know their enemy. Soon, searingly, his memories go from bad to worse. Heart-stopping and hypnotic, By Night in Chile marks the American debut of an astonishing writer.
Praise For By Night in Chile…
— James Wood
A wonderful torrent of emotion, a brilliant historical meditation, a captivating fantasy…Destined to occupy forever a place in universal literature.
— Susan Sontag
In Chris Andrews's lucid translation, Bolaño's febrile narrative tack and occasional surreal touches bring to mind the classics of Latin American magic realism; his cerebral protagonist and nonfiction borrowings are reminiscent of Thomas Bernhard and W. G. Sebald. The novel, Bolaño's first to be translated into English, is at once occasion for celebration and for mourning.
— New York Times
New Directions, 9780811215473, 118pp.
Publication Date: December 17, 2003
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.