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Antwerp, Before and After

BolaƱo's first novel, now republished.

Book Cover Such has been the influence of Chilean novelist Robert Bolaño that every posthumous publication of his ouevre has been hungrily devoured by the growing multitudes of his admirers. Now comes Antwerp, translated by Natasha Wimmer (New Directions), which was written in 1980 but first published in 2002, just before Bolaño’s death.

As his first novel, this short, loose fragmentary work in 54 (56?) pieces of various voices begins with his introduction, “Total Anarchy: Twenty-Two Years Later”

I wrote this book for myself, and even that I can’t be sure of.

To be sure, there are characters and a shadow of a storyline, but on the whole Antwerp seems to be an exercise or experiment. And while there is great value if you are already a devotee, it is hardly a book with which one should begin their reading of Bolaño.

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