A Little Lumpen Novelita


Roberto Bolaño
translated by Natasha Wimmer

Published in Spanish right before Bolaño's death, A Little Lumpen Novelita percolates with a fierce and tender love of women

“Now I am a mother and a married woman, but not long ago I led a life of crime”: so Bianca begins her tale of growing up the hard way in Rome. Orphaned overnight as a teenager—“our parents died in a car crash on their first vacation without us”—she drops out of school, gets a crappy job, and drifts into bad company. Her younger brother brings home two petty criminals who need a place to stay. As the four of them share the family apartment and plot a strange crime, Bianca learns how low she can fall.

Electric and tense with foreboding, with its jagged, propulsive short chapters beautifully translated by Natasha Wimmer, A Little Lumpen Novelita delivers a surprising, fractured fairy tale of seizing control of one’s fate.

More Praise…

A Little Lumpen Novelita, while short, is among Bolano's most intoxicating works. Obsessive and ambiguous, its open-ended nature is reflective not only of the protagonist but of the author himself. And it further cements him as a master of the form, of any form.”

— Juan Vidal, NPR

“As for Bolaño, what can one say? One of our greatest writers, a straight colossus.”

— Junot Diaz

“One of the best books of the year—A Little Lumpen Novelita feels as substantial as a book three times as long… This is a glittering gem, as maddening and haunting as you’d expect from Bolaño.”

— Gabe Habash, Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

A Little Lumpen Novelita is a piece of intelligent realism without any sermons.”

El País

A Little Lumpen Novelita is brave and beautiful, a 'quiet storm' that reminds us what a joy it is to read Bolaño's intimate writing.”

Revista Rocinante

“Bolaño has joined the immortals.”

The Washington Post

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