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.
“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