Sean Alan Cleary at Public Books:
It was a December 17, 2012, review in the New Republic that called it. In the course of largely panning Roberto Bolaño’s Woes of the True Policemanas an incomplete work that “showed [its] seams,” the reviewer, Sam Carter, declared that the immortal Bolaño was—finally—dead. It’d been nine years and 10 novels translated since the author’s death from liver failure, and now his illustrious second life in the American literary public’s eye had ended.1 “We have enough,” the review concluded.
The posthumous wave of translations and publications that had kept Bolaño alive for American audiences had crashed—or, at least the “Bolaño Bubble,” as Carter called it, had burst. A New York Times review declared that Woes has an appeal that “is to completists only,” and, if it were an album, that it would be akin to “a collection of outtakes, alternate versions, and demos.” The book’s publisher, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, had described Woes as Bolaño’s “last, unfinished novel” and added an explanatory note that laid out the rummaging done among his papers to put the thing together.