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3.62  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,801 Ratings  ·  230 Reviews
As Bolano’s friend and literary executor, Ignacio Echevarría, once suggested, Antwerp can be viewed as the Big Bang of Roberto Bolano’s fictional universe. Reading this novel, the reader is present at the birth of Bolano’s enterprise in prose: all the elements are here, highly compressed, at the moment when his talent explodes. From this springboard—which Bolano chose to p ...more
Hardcover, 78 pages
Published April 30th 2010 by New Directions (first published 2003)
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Jack Morley It's a very loosely structured crime story about police, young girls, and a hunchback in Barcelona, but it's also mostly about a young writer trying…moreIt's a very loosely structured crime story about police, young girls, and a hunchback in Barcelona, but it's also mostly about a young writer trying to figure out what to do with his life. Hard to exactly describe.(less)
The Savage Detectives by Roberto BolañoThe House of the Spirits by Isabel AllendeEva Luna by Isabel Allende2666 by Roberto BolañoDaughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
Chilean Literature
67th out of 160 books — 78 voters
The Waves by Virginia WoolfBy Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept by Elizabeth SmartUlysses by James JoyceParis Spleen by Charles BaudelaireMrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Prose poetry
47th out of 77 books — 32 voters

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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Apr 04, 2016 s.penkevich rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to s.penkevich by: Mike Puma
Nothing lasts, the purely loving gestures of children tumble into the void.

I hope this book is in my pocket at the moment of my death. Cancer, most likely, or perhaps the cacophony of a horrific car crash. Certainly not old age, given my lifestyle, though it is a nice dream. Possibly a snap moment of gratuitous violence or any other aberration from the mundane that a solipsistic individual would register as the utter apocalypse. Whatever the circumstances, I can only hope that my blood soaks int
Apr 28, 2010 Greg rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
The only novel that doesn't embarrass me is Antwerp"-Roberto Bolaño

A quick look at the reviews for this book show some people who really don't like it. They are probably right

This is a young work. It's darkly romantic (without sentimentality). It wears it's belief in the power of literature and words right on it's sleeve (so to speak, because books don't have sleeves, and this one doesn't even have a dust jacket).

Of what is lost, irretrievebly lost, all I wish to recover is the daily availablit
Mar 29, 2013 Praj rated it really liked it
Shelves: rb
Play the flute, O dear death,
Frantic solitude engraves,
In your mellow embrace,
Letters of a fleeting breath.

Sometimes, I just lay on the floor fearing of being drowned in the emotional mayhem conferred by a book for being loyal to its words. And, then at times when I have no answers to the myriad questionnaires I seek refuge in these written words as a lost soul finding its home. The desire for a transparent ceiling seems surreal like a fish praying for wings. The fatalities of trust, love, sex
Barry Pierce
Hmmm I've read this and I still have no clue what it is. This is just a pocket book. 78-pages in all. Split into 56 vignettes. You could call it a crime story but there is no evidence. There is a narrative but only Bolaño knows where that is. It's like a cake before entering the oven. All the ingredients are there, the flour, the baking powder, the eggs, but it's still not a cake. I think I liked this. I think.
Jason Pettus
May 07, 2010 Jason Pettus rated it did not like it
Shelves: contemporary, hipster
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

For those who don't know, in recent years the new poster-child for American intellectuals has become the late Chilean author Roberto Bolano, for a whole perfect storm of small reasons: a former leftist political radical who wrote manytimes impenetrably dense yet poetic manuscripts, his rough-and-tumble li
Jan 21, 2016 Nick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those familiar with Bolaño's novels
Antwerp — written in 1980 but not published in Spanish until 2002 — has been described as a loose prose-poem. 56 short, fragmentary, wonderfully-written vignettes/sketches, some barely taking up half a page of a very small almost pocket-sized book. Characters tie the sketches together; the hint of storyline, of narrative. Sparse impressions. The origins of Bolaño's other works of fiction. The subjects and themes that run throughout his later works are here, almost as if Bolaño is testing the wat ...more
Jeff Jackson
Sep 12, 2012 Jeff Jackson rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of the erotic repetitions of Alain Robbe-Grillet and/or James Ellroy
At first this reads like a bunch of noir-inflected prose poems -- but as the characters begin to repeat, locations stubbornly reappear, and dead bodies pile up in familiar configurations, you realize this is a deeply fractured crime novel, of sorts. Or maybe a hallucinatory poetic sequence that's extracted its essence from a well-worn pile of detective fiction. However you care to classify this assortment of startling images, pulp scenarios, and aggressive displacements, there's an underlying-bu ...more
Tanuj Solanki
Jun 04, 2014 Tanuj Solanki rated it liked it

‘Will you visit me?’ ‘My boss says it takes 0.54 seconds for a person to decide to open an email after reading the subject line.’ ‘But I took decisions. And I also think there is an element of destiny here.’ ‘There is a book on my crotch. The story I’m reading is titled ‘MY ONE TRUE LOVE.’’ ‘There is a sex stain on his bed sheet.’ ‘This is the Swiss countryside. Electric fences and cows grazing behind them. Also little Santas hanging on attic windows.’ ‘Thank you for this. You are a ter
Lakis Fourouklas
Nov 10, 2011 Lakis Fourouklas rated it it was amazing
“I wrote this book for the ghosts” says the author, before adding that this “my only novel that doesn’t embarrass me…”
The thing is though that this book is not neither a novel, nor a novella; it’s not even a short story collection. If anyone asked me I would say that what we have here is a collection of clippings of life and of random thoughts that somehow manage to meet at one point or another and thus make sense.
The author is doing here what he does best; he’s playing. He’s playing with the
Aug 27, 2012 Lee rated it liked it
Fragmented abstract notes (sometimes complete with cinematographic direction) for the most pretentious art film ever made? Representative phrase: "All I can come up with are stray sentences, he said, maybe because reality seems like a swarm of stray sentences. Desolation must be something like that, said the hunchback." Unattributed jags of dialogue/quotation. Occasional self-conscious commentary on the book's form. Quick cuts within paragraphs consistently derailed my attention (not necessarily ...more
Feb 02, 2010 jeremy rated it really liked it
Shelves: translation, fiction
"i wrote this book for myself, and even that i can't be sure of. for a long time these were just loose pages that i reread and maybe tinkered with, convinced i had no time. but time for what? i couldn't say exactly. i wrote this book for the ghosts, who, because they're outside of time, are the only ones with time. after the last rereading (just now), i realize that time isn't the only thing that matters, time isn't the only source of terror. pleasure can be terrifying too, and so can courage... ...more
Jan 08, 2016 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been on a Bolaño kick lately, reading some of the books I'd picked up during my book tour last year before tackling Savage Detectives: Antwerp (Green Apple Books, San Francisco), Tres (London) and Monica Maristain's Bolaño (Skylight Books, Los Angeles). Reading these three together was a happy accident as it provided a lot of clarity and context for what I was reading.

The postscript to Antwerp tells us it was written in Barcelona in 1980. The author's introduction, written in 2002 when the
Jan 02, 2012 Joseph rated it liked it
This short novel as Bolaño called it was confusing and bewildering to read. Written in 56 short vignettes or sketches, it was easy to read in a couple of hours. Digesting it and nailing down what happened and who was involved is another thing.

As far as I can tell there was a terrible crime committed at a campground, the subsequent crime investigation, a meandering and wandering author--probably Bolaño himself. There's also a nameless girl, a hunchback, and an Englishman. None of them are concre
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Bolano's first novel. A fragmented, jumbled-up look at his life as a young expat in the seamy side of the Costa Brava. A corrupt policeman and his liaison with a girl who works in the drug trade, a hunchback, a Jewish girl, an English writer past his prime, anal sex in a squalid room, murders at a nudist camp site, fragments, phrases, meditations, a railway station at's brilliant, full of despair and hope and the dreams of a young man finding his way in his craft or art. I will clearl ...more
Nov 12, 2012 Jenn added it
Reading this is like being in a dream, or rather, someone else's dream, or rather, waking up and recounting your own dream, hence it doesn't make sense much, but I definitely feel it. I started reading this late at night and just couldn't stop; I wanted to go on and on and make sense of all these dreams.

This "novel"'s just short. I need to re-read it soon.
Apr 06, 2015 Richard rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-15
I work with this sweetly gentle hippie guy who is kind of adorable in his own goofy way, and he recommended Bolaño to me quite highly. Bolaño had actually been on my radar for a while, but I'd never gotten around to him for one reason or another. You know how those things go.

Anyways, I figured that even if it wasn't my taste, I'd have something to chat with Andrew about, so I did a little research and picked Antwerp - because it was short and because the cover has a quote from the author saying
Jun 02, 2013 Greg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Antwerp. A great book form and way of writing. This is an aesthetic book experience - hardcover with dust jacket - a small pocket book - nice to carry around, each page can stand alone and be read like a poem, very visual images, oblique endings.

Is it poetry in a different form? It is a story that is assembled in a cubist style. Very visual snippets of images,
it's like storyboard for a film.
It can be read from the beginning or read any page of the 56 'chapters'. They can stand alone as an inten
Carlos Clorth

Es una novela negra experimental y el libro del que Bolaño no se avergüenza (o eso dicen) por lo que me atrajo. Se lee como 56 poemas en prosa muy cortos interrelacionados por elementos comunes. Un muerto. Una pelirroja. El jorobadito. Escenas sadomasoquistas. Una película proyectada en el bosque.
Le aplaudo por la idea (algo pretenciosa) Al cabo de un tiempo el libro se vuelve algo cansado. Aburre y es una pena porque Bolaño escribe de maravilla.
Apr 29, 2012 Jim rated it it was amazing
We are in a post-modernist time warp. Maybe in Barcelona, maybe in Mexico City, maybe in Antwerp. Probably in Barcelona. There's a hunchback, six dead bodies in a campground where naked orgies were held, a policeman making love to an 18-year-old redhead. Don't forget the medic, the writer Bolaño who flits in and out, a train at night. There are images that stick in the mind, but it's all like a puzzle whose pieces are not quite machined to fit exactly. No matter. This fit after a fashion in some ...more
Roberto Bolaño's Antwerp is unusually short for a novel - the paperback edition is just 78 pages - and presents a fractured narrative. Frequently described as prose poetry, this is a fragmentary and surreal book filled with potent imagery. Its meaning, if there is one, is hard to discern. Certainly, there is no fixed central narrative, although threads and recurring characters emerge as the pages turn. A theme of brutal and propietary behaviour from police adds menace and constant darkness. Made ...more
Non sono un fantasma, ne consegue che questo scritto di Bolano per me è illeggibile. Propendo piuttosto alla prima ipotesi fatta dall'autore nell'incipit e cioè che questa opera l'abbia scritta prevalentemente per se stesso, per il resto del mondo che non è Bolano risulta incomprensibile e senza senso.
Leggere Anversa è come cercare di comprendere un sogno particolarmente incasinato, di solito lo lascio stare, non cerco di capire, meglio un sogno non compreso che un sogno mal interpretato.
Non ste
Oct 01, 2014 Irene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Het boek uit, maar is dit boek ooit uit? De hoofdstukken zijn schilderijen. Poëtische, filmische schetsen, waar je lang op moet kauwen: ongrijpbaar, sinister, infiltrerend in alle krochten van je ziel. Dit boek is al een jaar mijn levensgenoot en zelfs nu ik het uit heb, blijft het nog even in mijn rugzak.
Alborz Baghipour
Sep 25, 2015 Alborz Baghipour rated it it was amazing
در یک کلام ویرانکننده! «آنتورپ» تشکیل شده از قطعاتی کوتاه و شاعرانه، شبیهِ تکهتکههای خاطراتی که در طول داستان از جلوی چشمان خواننده عبور میکنند. تصاویری از "گوژپشتی که قوزش را به کاج کوچک و پوسیدهای تکیه داده و کنسرو ساردین و سُس گوجه میخورد"، "صورتهایی با چشمهای بسته و دهانهایی گشوده که لامتاکام حرف نمیزنند"، "کارگرانی که دستمزدشان را بصورت هروئین دریافت میکنند" و روبرتو بولانیویی که به یکی از کاراکترهای مکزیکی داستان کمک میکند چون " او هم سالها پیش عاشق دختری مکزیکی بوده". بولانیو در این اثرش ...more
Antwerp is depressing in several ways. Primarily it comes from an evidently tremendous effort to be cool, elliptical, laid-back, and fearless in subject matter. I am inordinately fond of Bolaño's work, so I'd like to think this is all intentional and directed toward an end, but if so, it escaped me, and I didn't even want to browse back and see if I'd missed anything.

It is an early work, which lay unpublished for three decades before it was sent to the publisher with a sort of Slow Learner intr
Apr 29, 2012 Brad rated it really liked it
A central series of events and themes, some of which are recognisable from The Savage Detectives, is recollected in a series of fragments that aim not to reveal the nature of those events but traverse them every which way in memory. The writing is often cinematic in the sense that we are told what point of view we are taking up on a scene, and directions are given concerning who is walking towards or away from the camera. Many of the fragments are oriented around a series of phrases the origin o ...more
Jack Waters
Antwerp is persuasive w/r/t the merits and possibilities of brevity.

You can read it in a few minutes. Should you? Have you ever taken those cylinders of orange juice concentrate bottoms up with much success? It doesn't matter, really.

Bolaño’s feverish vistas depict plenty of Worlds within the sparse descriptions he offers about them.

Magnified ado is given to R.B.'s own declarative of this work: "The only novel that doesn't embarrass me is Antwerp."

Does non-embarrassment equal Best Work? Have
I've never quite bought the hype-machine of Bolano, but the few books I've read by him I've enjoyed. Multiple people, however, told me to check this one out, so I filed it in the back of my head, figuring that when it was the right time it would come to me. Yesterday I saw the paperback (what a lovely cover!) staring back at me at Dog Earred Books on Valencia and decided that it was the right time. I've read it over the last 24 hours, reading it while I smoke, while I shit, while I stand up in m ...more
Abimelech Abimelech
Jun 06, 2012 Abimelech Abimelech rated it really liked it
Waxing moon in August.

this one reminds me of paris spleen, familiar hauntingly calculated (by hauntingly calculated i mean something like the effect of when a little younger watching blue velvet for the third time and really unconsciously analyzing more subtle scenes and WHAM the Yellow Man, towards the end, is standing tall and dead, a piece of his brain exposed, yet swings arms at dispatch radio - haunting calculation? what the fuck is this and how did i, or you, or anyone get here?) of the bo
Peter Rock
Jul 15, 2013 Peter Rock rated it it was ok
This is a pretty little book; I might give it three stars for its random brilliantness, though. I confess that I love Bolano's stories in LAST EVENINGS ON EARTH and the short novels like THE SKATING RINK, but I get a little lost and just can't quite get the the hype of THE SAVAGE DETECTIVES and 2666. (Is it okay to admit this?) Perhaps it's cultural, perhaps it's pretension, sensibility, my density. There's some brilliant writing,here, and many hints of where Bolano was going and would go. So it ...more
Mar 21, 2011 Olivia rated it liked it
I got this book as a small hardback, and I am glad because it means I can carry it around to consult numerous time in the future, and I believe I will come to love it more. Right now, I find it bewildering, like something I tried out and could not get them all in one reading. It is unpolished but impressively raw, and I enjoyed it. I suspect I'll need to talk more about it in future.


"The scorn I felt for so-called official literature was great, though only a little g
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For most of his early adulthood, Bolaño was a vagabond, living at one time or another in Chile, Mexico, El Salvador, France and Spain.

Bolaño moved to Europe in 1977, and finally made his way to Spain, where he married and settled on the Mediterranean coast near Barcelona, working as a dishwasher, a campground custodian, bellhop and garbage collector — working during the day and writing at night.

More about Roberto Bolaño...

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“Of what is lost, irretrievably lost, all I wish to recover is the daily availability of my writing, lines capable of grasping me by the hair and lifting me up when I'm at the end of my strength. (Significant, said the foreigner.) Odes to the human and the divine. Let my writing be like the verses of by Leopardi that Daniel Biga recited on a Nordic bridge to gird himself with courage.” 9 likes
“It's absurd to see an enchanted princess in every girl who walks by. What do you think you are, a troubadour?” 4 likes
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