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Nazi Literature in the Americas

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  4,208 ratings  ·  429 reviews
Featuring several mass-murdering authors, two fraternal writers at the head of a football-hooligan ring and a poet who crafts his lines in the air with sky writing, Nazi Literature in the Americas details the lives of a rich cast of characters from one of the most extraordinarily fecund imaginations in world literature. Written with acerbic wit and virtuosic flair, this e ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published 2010 by Picador (first published February 1996)
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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Somewhere in the midst of this book, Bolaño spells out in explicit words what I suspected to be the undercurrents from the word go:
….a novel about order and disorder, justice and injustice, God and the Void.
So there I was - witnessing a swashbuckling cavalcade of ideas, overflowing from the chariot of Bolaño’s mind; irreducible owing to their weight, hypnotic owing to their flight.

My first Bolaño could not have been a better book. 30 essays written as biographies of fictitious authors, who
Jan 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The artists, writers, poets which inhabit this lexicon-type novel breathe the air of history, and all lead individual destinies never devoid of woe. The pursuit of art is presented warts-&-all, & is as realistic of art as it is about the appreciation of art.

"Nazi Literature in the Americas" is a prolonged lament. (As if anything Bolano ever wrote wasn't one.) The uniqueness of the novel is that it has no plot but has instead the overwhelming urge to collect writers as economically, poign
Luís C.
It took me a while to understand where Roberto Bolaño was coming from ...
"Nazi Literature in America" is as an anthology of authors born in the late nineteenth century and the years 50/60, men and women from different social backgrounds, the writer has grouped into categories with titles sometimes poetic ..
Reading the first biographies, more or less brief, one obscuring the previous and relegating it to an almost instantaneous forgetfulness, I thought that I was there in front of a style exercis
Apr 29, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: obsessives
i spend way too much time making my bookshelves pretty: pruning, arranging, designing... i'm regularly plagued by some pretty critical issues: chronologically? by author? color? size? (y'see... unlike the rest of my shitty and privileged generation who gets all pantiebunched about evil corporations & all them bombs dropped on all them brown people, i actually have serious things on the brain) i fantasize that i'm gonna bring some gorgeous woman back home (please god let it be marisa tomei an ...more
Apr 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary
Few novels bring me to a place that is best described as that plane one is trapped in before waking from a very lucid dream. You know the place where you can taste the air, feel the colors, where reality and imagination are embraced so thoroughly that borders blend and realign themselves. NAZI LITERATURE IN THE AMERICAS is like that place. Bolano creates a completely fabricated world where poets and novelists and artists mingle with other characters-both fictional and real-as if they were all si ...more
Barry Pierce
Sep 29, 2015 rated it liked it
This is an encyclopedia of writers associated with the Nazi Literature movement of the 20th century, focusing mainly on those living in the Americas. It gives each writer a couple of pages of biography and discusses most of their major works. All of it is backed up by an extensive index and a vast bibliography. So far so simple yeah? Oh hell no. This is fucking Bolaño.

Y'see, there is no such thing as Nazi Literature. It's all made up. And all of the people discussed in this book? All made up as
Nov 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: south-american
This is a real oddity, very clever, ironic and satirical, hardly a novel; more an encyclopedia. Basically it is a list of fascist and ultra right wing authors of the Americas. Each one has a brief biography and analysis of their works, with their dates (some don't pass away until the 2020s). They are generally self deluded, often vicious, mostly mediocre and Bolano sends them all up remorselessly.
Their fictional biographies sometimes overlap with real life; Ginsberg, Octavio Paz and Borges pop
Jim Coughenour
May 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: darkandfunny
This brutal little classic will be only appreciated by misfits, if they're lucky enough to discover it. It's the most recently translated novel of the late Roberto Bolaño (in another handsome edition from New Directions): a volume of invented biographies, detailing the lives and works of fascist litterateurs who never existed.

Here is wicked humor of the highest order – but I suspect it will be opaque to anyone innocent of the cruelties of literary gossip masquerading as criticism (and as an occa
Anastasia Fitzgerald-Beaumont
In Nazi Literature in the Americas Roberto Bolaño - a Chilean writer who sadly died aged fifty in 2003 - has provided the perfect literary companion. It’s an exhaustive collection of pocket obituaries of all the major and many of the minor poets, writers and novelists whose political conservatism took them to the extreme right, who became Nazis or fellow travellers, all of whom were born in the Americas. It’s such a pity we do not have a European equivalent.

I confess I had never heard of many of
In the one notorious ‘Book’ in 2666, Bolano numbs his reader with one vignette of rape and murder after another. They read like a police blotter. In Nazi Literature in the Americas, one capsule biography of an extreme right-wing writer follows another. They read like encyclopedia entries. There’s an ostensible simplicity there; but this is not just some mere exposition of cleverness. I mean, it can’t just be that, can it?

(Whenever I make some pretense of discussing what a work of fiction really
Oct 12, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I kept waiting for something - a revelation, a common thread - to draw the narrative together and bring it into focus, but there was nothing. I searched for common themes, something to unify the novel, but there is very little of this nature. It seems that the brief, fictional biographies are simply to be taken for what they are, in and of themselves. There is humour there, and intelligence, and a wild imagination, but for me these things weren't enough. I'm hesitant to reward such ambition and ...more
The format of this fiction is as a biographical guide to Nazi writers, pre- and post-World War II. I was expecting the "entries" to tie together into some sort of recognizable narrative. Bolaño does not do this. Indeed, Bolaño is not even interested in this. Each entry is freestanding and could be subtracted from the whole as easily as, say, new entries could be added. While there is some cross-pollination it doesn't pull the disparate parts together into a story. While the book has relevance fo ...more
This book is not for everyone - it requires that you are already in on Bolaño's prosopographical (inside) jokes (if you are, much of this is hysterical); love his jungle of proper nouns - reminiscent of Whitman or Catullus, but lusher -- and have a serious interest in understanding the pathologies of fascism and Nazism. For what Bolaño offers here is nothing less than a filleting of the psychology/pathology of fascism -- on the premise that fascism is not a doctrine (not wholly true), but a mood ...more
Jason Pettus
Jun 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(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 here illegally.)

So have you heard yet about the strange saga of Chilean author Roberto Bolaño? Born in the 1950s, a globetrotting vagabond and revolutionary activist most of his youth, one who just barely escaped the Pinochet coup of the '70s, Bolaño ended up settling down for the first time in the '80s and cranking
May 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: latin-america
Bolaño’s exquisite work here is underappreciated in a lot of circles for one virtue: it’s a whole mess a goddamn fun. Sure he’s working out of a Latin-American tradition of fictions-within-fictions; he calls bullshit on himself for it slyly throughout the book. I think any read benefits from having a running knowledge of at least some of the real authors that he peppers throughout. But even if you have zero context, there's such glee on these pages (I wore gloves) that it is hard to resist getti ...more
MJ Nicholls
An alternative literary history. Bolaño holds a mirror up to the fascist blowhards canonised by the establishment with his cast of lovable Nazi sympathisers.

This is basically a book of spurious biographical details about spurious writers. How it manages to be a rip-roaring and bum-loving read is part of its magical sway. Recommended.
Lee Foust
Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel is a brilliantly-conceived OuLiPo-style formal game: it's a collection of short biographies of imaginary Nazi writers from Chile to Canada from the nineteen thirties well into the twenty-first century (some years after the date of the novel's publication!). Probably the inspiration for the non-narrative format, French writer Georges Perec, is name-checked--and Bolano himself has a kind of cameo in the last chapter/bio. Along the way the short bios cleverly weave in many of the cultura ...more
Sep 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Traditional 19th century style novels, with a beginning, middle and end part, with their ways, their causes and consequences, their linear time frame, are finished, dead and gone even that doesnt mean they dont continue being written and are sold fairly or even successfully well. One likes them because they can be understood more easily. Even Roberto Bolaño never wrote a novel which cannot be understood, almost all of these features are more or less absent from his works.

All this does not mean w
Richard Derus
Jan 23, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pearl-ruled
Abandon ship! Abandon ship! On p41, I admit defeat and Roberto Bolaño wins the archly clever condescending twit sweepstakes hands down.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Feb 11, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2009
Christopher Wilson
Baltimore (Maryland),
1977 -- Kalamazoo (Michigan), 2055

In 2008, Wilson was enthralled by the story of the New Jersey couple who publicly feuded with a timid grocery store establishment that unconstitutionally refused to bake a swastika cake for their son, Adolf. It was during this time that Wilson decided to fight political correctness through baby names. Having spent the greater part of the previous decade toiling away in the federal government, Wilson had developed a predile
Sentimental Surrealist
A tricky book to pin down tonally, in that it's at once the funniest and one of the most eglaic of Bolano's books. I say "book" and not "novel" because it doesn't really read like a novel; it seems more like a collection of short stories, a superior version of Borges' A Universal History of Iniquity. See, Bolano understands that his Nazi writers (mostly poets, although there are some playwrights and prose writers as well) are pretty close to talentless and not anywhere near as good as their ambi ...more
Nov 29, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pomo, fiction, owned
When Amalfitano subjects his pharmacist to a short mental screed about the drawbacks of writers' minor works in 2666, this is exactly the kind of thing he's talking about. A series of biographical sketches of fictional western-hemisphere writers with far-right sympathies, it'll take you no more than two or three hours to read. In its personalization of its characters' politics, it offers a bit of a clue to Bolano's modus operandi; it's just not as inventive as you'd like it to be, and not as inv ...more
Sep 04, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: rb
Bolano puts forth a compilation of 30 peculiar biographies of fictitious Pan American writers in the 20th century accentuating quite a few brazen out supremacists, interlaced with the triviality of malevolence and complex yet vibrant inhabitations of bizarre hermits spurning volatile prose and erudite parody of eccentric cerebral subjugation. Although not Bolano’s treasure, it does illuminate the excruciating passion and mordant stupor he is reputed for.
Jan 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perfect bedtime reading. Short chapters, all to the point.
I loved this book while I was reading it, and then discovered an even profounder respect for this book when I was typing up my notes about it. It combines a penchant for indexicality with fervent imaginings and astute critical intelligence. If you value all three as highly as I do, this is a perfect book. Here are examples of the kind of writing you will be treated to:

She dreamed of studying architecture and designing grandiose schools t
Peycho Kanev
Oct 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of his best books. Yes, very different from the rest, but important none the less. I recommend it to all readers of great Fiction. Yes, it is fiction.
Brent Legault
Apr 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nazi Literature in the Americas, by Roberto Bolaño, New York, 2008. A collection of faux-criticism and thumbnail biographies of authors who never existed beyond the pages of this book (and others in his oeuvre). The style is direct, written for the public rather than the academic and marred by only a handful of clichés (which may have mushroomed up in translation). Humor is dry but ever-present. Much of the text is told in summary and therefore a bit distant but an occasional "scene" slips throu ...more
Sean A.
Seemed like an appropriate read given the current political climates.


The Bolano stories and novellas fall into two camps; lesser mastery and greater mastery. This one was a mixture for me.
Eric which he relates, although in a muddled or deliberately hermetic manner, some of his adventures in North America...The book contains historical inaccuracies, which may, however, be deranged metaphors for truths of another kind.

So much of what I find witty about these fictive capsule biographies has to do with the shadowy family resemblance between parodic genius and hopeless, graphomaniac charlatanism. The descriptions of the writers' books always come with plausible highbrow justification
Dec 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
ok, i hate cute fucking nazis. probably only Bolaño has the mendacity to make them cute, sort of interesting and worth thinking about.added bonus of this book helping you dear reader with some of the history and characters in other Bolaño novels like "the savage detectives" and "2666". ok, if you aren't really into Bolaño then don't worry about. just go away and continue with your damn ethnocide.

if you click on the book cover you can read some really great comments and reviews about this book an
This thing seems like a tremendous inside joke. Lots of literary references, some gentle ribbing at the role of art and politics. 'Fictional nonficiton' in the style of Borges. Some figures make later appearances in his work, like the Romanian general who gets crucified naked in 2666.

I'll get back to this review later, I have a terrible head cold now. I might have some idea of what Bolaño is attempting here, but my head is too stuffed full of phlegm to get anything out until later.
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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.

“What cannot be cannot be, besides witch, it's impossible.” 1 likes
“Pronto comprendió que sólo existían dos maneras de acceder a él: mediante la violencia abierta, que no venía al caso pues era un hombre apacible y nervioso al que repugnaba hasta la vista de la sangre, o mediante la literatura, que es una forma de violencia soterrada y que concede respetabilidad y en ciertos países jóvenes y sensibles es uno de los disfraces de la escala social.” 0 likes
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