Jonathan Lethem on Roberto Bolaño, or the best novel of the year?

In this weekend’s New York Times Book Review Jonathan Lethem offers high praise for Roberto Bolaño’s 2666, which comes out in the U.S. on Tuesday. Based on the review, it looks like 2666 will vie with Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland for the title of the best book of 2008. Lethem writes: 

“2666” is as consummate a performance as any 900-page novel dare hope to be: Bolaño won the race to the finish line in writing what he plainly intended, in his self-interrogating way, as a master statement. Indeed, he produced not only a supreme capstone to his own vaulting ambition, but a landmark in what’s possible for the novel as a form in our increasingly, and terrifyingly, post-national world. “The Savage Detectives” looks positively hermetic beside it.

. . . .

A novel like “2666” is its own preserving machine, delivering itself into our hearts, sentence by questing, unassuming sentence; it also becomes a preserving machine for the lives its words fall upon like a forgiving rain, fictional characters and the secret selves hidden behind and enshrined within them: hapless academic critics and a hapless Mexican boxer, the unavenged bodies deposited in shallow graves. By writing across the grain of his doubts about what literature can do, how much it can discover or dare pronounce the names of our world’s disasters, Bolaño has proven it can do anything, and for an instant, at least, given a name to the unnamable.

Now throw your hats in the air.

Even the design of 2666 is getting coverage from New York Magazine. I opted, at least initially, for the for three-paperback boxed set. You?

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