Antwerp's signature elements – crimes and campgrounds, drifters and poetry, sex and love, corrupt cops and misfits – mark this, his first novel, as pure Bolaño.
As Bolaño's friend and literary executor, Ignacio Echevarria, once suggested, Antwerp can be viewed as the Big Bang of Roberto Bolaño's fictional universe. Reading this novel, the reader is present at the birth of Bolaño's enterprise in prose: all the elements are here, highly compressed, at the moment when his talent explodes. From this springboard – which Bolaño chose to publish in 2002, twenty years after he'd written it ("and even that I can't be certain of") – as if testing out a high dive, he would plunge into the unexplored depths of the modern novel. Antwerp's fractured narration in 54 sections – voices from a dream, from a nightmare, from passers by, from an omniscient narrator, from "Roberto Bolaño" all speak – moves in multiple directions and cuts to the bone.
“The only novel that doesn't embarrass me is Antwerp.”
— Roberto Bolaño
“Never less than mesmerizing.”
— Los Angeles Times
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