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A translator's task – to disappear

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"It's been a long and amazing experience. It may be the peak of [my] career as a translator," she says, pausing. "Chances are good."

It's hard to overstate the critical fervor with which Bolaño-mania – the phrase coined by the Economist – has hit North America. Writing in the New York Times Book Review, the critic James Wood called Bolaño, "one of the greatest and most influential modern writers." The novelist Jonathan Lethem noted that, "Bolaño has proven [literature] can do anything." "The Savage Detectives" topped many best-of lists in 2007, and Time magazine named "2666" the best book of 2008.

More notable still is the commercial popularity of "2666," an unusually complex and occasionally obtuse novel. According to the Economist, the book's first printing vanished from shelves within days, forcing the publisher to rush a second order.

In recent years, US publishers have sought to establish a more international tone, partly to counter charges of American insularity. (Last October, Horace Engdahl, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy that distributes the Nobel Prize in Literature, said that American writers were "too sensitive to trends in their own mass culture.")

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