New in Paperback: 2666 by Robert Bolaño

The book so many media outlets called the literary sensation of 2008 is likely to be one of the most awaited paperback publications of 2009.

2666 (Picador) was the book that occupied — some have said preoccupied — the last five years of Robert Bolaño’s life. Initially published in Spain to wide acclaim the year after the author’s 2003 death, the American edition — translated by Natasha Wimmer — brought the literary world to its knees. 2666 won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN Translation Prize and was a New York Times bestseller. “A masterpiece,” raved Time. “Strange and marvelous and impossibly funny,” said the Los Angeles Times, while Slate said 2666 had “the confident strangeness of a masterpiece.”

A philosopher, a reporter, an author and a detective take on the mysterious disappearance of many woman over the course of many years. That is, of course, condensing the nearly 1,000-page novel quite beyond where it can be compressed. Never mind: if you wanted to read 2666 last year but couldn’t face that big ol’ hardcover, think it over again now. The book is still almost impossibly intense, deliciously convoluted and starkly unreal, but in paper, it’s much, much easier to carry around.

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