Number One on the list:
2666Read about the other books on the list.
by Roberto Bolaño
(Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $30)
“Reviewing Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 is like reviewing the ocean,” said Adam Mansbach in The Boston Globe. Split into five loosely connected parts that range in tone from “romantic farce” to the literary equivalent of a black hole, this is a novel of “devastating power” written by an artist as cannily indirect as “the great post-bop jazz drummers.” Bolaño, who died at age 50 in 2003, set most of the action in a Mexican border town. But it’s not until a chilling catalogue of unsolved rape and crime unfolds in the long fourth section that readers can see that he’s been circling an evil so grand in scale that it seems to challenge any belief in life’s meaning. The lingering question this new masterpiece raises, said the editors of Salon.com, is whether humanity’s worst acts are “redeemed or ameliorated to the slightest degree by our most sublime achievements.”
A caveat: People shouldn’t use the term “masterpiece,” said The New Yorker, for a novel that doesn’t cohere.