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Book news: Roberto Bolano, John Kinsella, Sarah Palin and Barack Obama

Robertobolano_1118 Roberto Bolaño's "2666" has gotten such rave reviews that of course there would be a backlash from somewhere; it has come from n+1. The magazine asserts that "the '90s witnessed the American canonization of one important foreign writer — W. G. Sebald" and then asks, "Why reserve for [Bolaño] the once-in-a-decade beatification?" I think this premise is shaky — Murakami's "Wind Up Bird Chronicle," for instance, was published smack in the middle of the 1990s, and I'd say he's at least as important a foreign writer as Sebald — and the linking of Bolaño with Sebald feels both flip and forced. The piece is unsigned.

In other Bolaño news, independent publishing house New Directions, which has published five of his novels, has now released "The Romantic Dogs," a bilingual collection of his poetry. A long excerpt of his poem "The Worm" is available on the publisher's website

A new poem by award winner John Kinsella, "Recognition Failure Horror," is a new online exclusive at the website of the literary journal AGNI.

Publishing blog Galleycat examines the rumors of a $7-million Sarah Palin book deal and smells something fishy.

Political books are still selling well — Barack Obama's, at least. He's at No. 3 and No. 4 on our paperback bestseller list, No. 7 and No. 11 overall on Amazon, No. 8 and No. 11 on the N.Y. Times hardcover nonfiction list and, at the N.Y. Times, No. 1 and No. 2 in paperback.

—Carolyn Kellogg

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Is this really a backlash, though? The writer (one of N+1's editors, I assume--their editorials go unsigned) also states, "Bolaño is the real thing, as urgent, various, imaginative, and new as any writer active in the last decade." The essay doesn't complain about Bolaño's reception, but about the relative lack of critical attention to fiction in translation, which is difficult to deny if you look at, say, an issue of the New York Times Book Review.


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