The National Book Critics Circle chose Roberto Bolaño’s epic, 2666, as it’s winner for the fiction award saying that it is “a virtuoso accomplishment that ranks with Moby-Dick and Blood Meridian as one of the trenchant and kaleidoscopic examinations of evil in fiction.”
Regardless of whether Blood Meridian and Moby Dick are on equal literary ground or not(I am going with not on this one), it’s refreshing to see a foreign author win this award, even if posthumously. The obvious comparison would be Garcia Marquez, not Melville or McCarthy. But, what’s nice about NBCC is that they do have translations present in their scope of consideration. I wish that it would include more or, at least, have some of the smaller presses represented that are coming out with such strong fiction.
2666 has received so much so much praise, it’s no surprise that it won the award. If it had been published by a smaller press, I wonder if the attention would have been the same? The book is unfinished and although it is masterful, it’s has made it’s mark on the American literary consciousness. I am not yet ready to say it’s the first major work of this millenium, but I am grateful that it set such a high standard for works in translation. And if you’re interested in reading another translated masterpiece that didn’t get major attention from critics, read Tranquility by Attila Bartis, the jarring book that won the Best Translated Book Award of 2009.
Have you read both? Is 2666 in the league of Moby Dick and Blood Meridian? Is Blood Meridian in the same league as Moby Dick and 2666?
By Roberto Bolano
Translated by Natasha Wimmer
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux