Roberto Bolaño (1952-2003)
He was a Chilean novelist and poet, winner of the prestigious Rómulo Gallegos
Prize for his novel "Los detectives salvajes" (The Savage Detectives) in 1999.
For most of his youth he was a nomad, living at one time or another in Chile,
Mexico, El Salvador, France and Spain, until he finally settled down in the
early eighties in the small Catalonian beachtown of Blanes, where he would die
of a liver disorder he suffered from for more than a decade. A crucial episode
in his life, mentioned in different forms in several of his works, occurred in
1973, when he left Mexico for Chile to "help build the revolution." In this trip
he would meet Salvadorean revolutionary poet Roque Dalton. After Augusto
Pinochet's coup against Salvador Allende, he was arrested and spent six days in
custody, although he did not suffer torture, and was rescued by two former
classmates who had become police detectives. In the seventies he became a
Trotskyist and founding member of the infrarrealismo, a small reaching poetic
movement. Six weeks before he died, his fellow Latin American novelists hailed
him as the most important figure of his generation at an international
conference he attended in Seville.
Bolaño only began publishing regularly in the late nineties, when he immediately
became a widely respected figure in Spanish and Latin American letters.