There's been a lot of buzz around the blogosphere and in some print publications about the forthcoming translation of 2666 by Roberto Bola?o. To be honest, prior to this I'd never heard of him, or, at the very least, the copy of The Savage Detectives sitting on the shelf in my local Borders hadn't registered with me.
Anyway, a brief bio courtesy of Wikipedia:
For most of his youth, Bola?o was a vagabond, living at one time or another in Chile, Mexico, El Salvador, France and Spain, where he finally settled down in the early 1980s in the small Catalan beach town of Blanes. There he died of a liver disorder he suffered from for more than a decade. He was survived by his Spanish wife and their two children, whom he once called "my only motherland." Bola?o named his only son Lautaro, after the Mapuche leader Lautaro, who resisted the Spanish conquest of Chile, as related in the sixteenth-century epic La araucana.It's always a shame, I think, when a writer comes to wider attention after their death. But Bola?o must be good - and by good I mean exceptional - as I feel that what I'm reading on the blogs and whatnot is genuine excitement rather than prepublication hype. So, how good is he? And what makes him for you, so great?
A crucial episode in his life, mentioned in different forms in several of his works, occurred in 1973, when he left Mexico for Chile to "help build the revolution." During his travels to Chile, he met revolutionary poet Roque Dalton in El Salvador. After Augusto Pinochet's coup against Salvador Allende, he was arrested; Bola?o spent eight days in custody, although he did not suffer torture, and was rescued by two former classmates who had become prison guards. In the 1970s, he became a Trotskyist and a founding member of infrarrealismo, a minor poetic movement. Although deep down he always felt like a poet, in the vein of his beloved Nicanor Parra, he is known for his novels, novellas, and short story collections. Six weeks before he died, his fellow Latin American novelists hailed him as the most important figure of his generation at an international conference he attended in Seville.