Distant Star

Current Stock: 1
UPC: 9780811215862
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Author: Roberto Bolano
Translator: Chris Andrews

This title was our February 2018 pick for the UNICORN BOOKCLUB! Find out more here.

  • Series: New Directions Paperbook
  • Paperback: 150 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions (December 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811215865
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811215862
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.4 x 8 inches

A chilling novel about the nightmare of a corrupt and brutal dictatorship.

The star of Roberto Bolano's hair-raising novel Distant Star is Alberto Ruiz-Tagle, an air force pilot who exploits the 1973 coup to launch his own version of the New Chilean Poetry, a multimedia enterprise involving sky-writing, poetry, torture, and photo exhibitions.

For our unnamed narrator, who first encounters this "star" in a college poetry workshop, Ruiz-Tagle becomes the silent hand behind every evil act in the darkness of Pinochet's regime. The narrator, unable to stop himself, tries to track Ruiz-Tagle down, and sees signs of his activity over and over again. A corrosive, mocking humor sparkles within Bolano's darkest visions of Chile under Pinochet. In Bolano's world there's a big graveyard and there's a big graveyard laugh. (He once described his novel By Night in Chile as "a tale of terror, a situation comedy, and a combination pastoral-gothic novel.")

Many Chilean authors have written about the "bloody events of the early Pinochet years, the abductions and murders," Richard Eder commented in the The New York Times: "None has done it in so dark and glittering a fashion as Roberto Bolano."


"Another gripping novel, concerns a fascist poet-pilot in Pinochet's reign." —The Nation, Forrest Gander

"The melancholy folklore of exile" pervades this novel, which describes the divergent paths of three young Chilean poets around the time of Pinochet's coup. At university, the unnamed narrator and his friend are fascinated by a mysterious new member of their poetry workshop. Alberto Ruiz-Tagle is "serious, well mannered, a clear thinker," but his poems seem false, as if his true work were yet to be revealed. It becomes apparent that this is literally the case when Allende's government falls: as an Air Force officer for the new regime, he becomes famous for writing nationalist slogans in the sky. (The left-wing narrator, now in jail, reads them from his prison yard.) Bolano's spare prose lends his narrator's account a chilly precision—as if the detachment of his former classmate had become his country's, and his own. —The New Yorker

About the Author

Author of 2666 and many other acclaimed works, Roberto Bolaño (1953-2003) was born in Santiago, Chile, and later lived in Mexico, Paris, and Spain. He has been acclaimed “by far the most exciting writer to come from south of the Rio Grande in a long time” (Ilan Stavans, The Los Angeles Times),” and as “the real thing and the rarest” (Susan Sontag). Among his many prizes are the extremely prestigious Herralde de Novela Award and the Premio Rómulo Gallegos. He was widely considered to be the greatest Latin American writer of his generation. He wrote nine novels, two story collections, and five books of poetry, before dying in July 2003 at the age of 50.