2666 (Magill's Literary Annual 2009)
Nearly nine hundred pages long in Natasha Wimmer’s superb translation, Roberto Bolaño’s novel 2666 pieces together diverse types of fictionamong them murder mystery, war story, love story, portrait of an artist, and police thrillerinto a story as garish, moving, and perplexing as a ralli quilt. Above all, it concerns families and friendship. In each of its five parts the narrative resolution involves some decisive action intended by one person to save a loved one, often from one of the most hellish places ever conceived in modern literature.
That place is Santa Teresa, a Mexican border city in the Sonora Desert. Fictional, Santa Teresa is nevertheless closely modeled on Ciudad Juaréz, which lies across the border from El Paso, Texas. Like Juaréz, Santa Teresa is a city rapidly expanding with workers attracted to its maquiladoras (assembly factories for foreign companies); like Juaréz, it is a violent, corrupt place, overrun by drug gangs. Most of all, from the early 1990’s onward, Santa Teresa witnesses the unsolved rape-murders of hundreds of girls and young women, whose bodies, often mutilated, are discovered unburied in the desert. The major characters in 2666 come here, for one reason or another, and its atmosphere of motiveless menace alters them all.
If there is a mysterious city at the heart of the novel, there is also a mystery man, a novelist, who is its antipode. As in Los detectives salvajes...
(The entire section is 1753 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2009)
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(The entire section is 48 words.)