© Luke Best
When he died in 2003, the Chilean novelist Roberto Bolaño was barely known in the English-speaking world. Since then, he has come to be recognised as one of the finest writers of his generation, winning praise from literary critics including James Wood and Susan Sontag. His most celebrated work is the 900-page postmodern epic 2666, which was described by novelist Jonathan Lethem as “a landmark in what’s possible for the novel as a form.”
A newly translated book of short stories The Return (published by Picador on 30th August) offers a less daunting but equally rich introduction to Bolaño’s huge body of work. “Another Russian Tale” is taken from this collection.
Once, after a conversation with a friend about the mercurial nature of art, Amal?tano told a story he’d heard in Barcelona. The story was about a sorche, a rookie, in the Spanish Blue Division, which