Roberto Bolano was born in Santiago, Chile and was a vagabond for much of his young life, living in Chile, Mexico, El Salvador, France and Spain before settling there. He died in 2003 after a decade-long struggle with liver disease.
Bolano's controversial life included a period in which he returned to Chile in order to support the leftist overthrow of the brutal Pinochet regime. He was imprisoned for several days and finally expelled from the country. He also helped found a poetry society in Europe dedicated to the promotion of communism.
Though he wrote for most of his life, and dedicated much of his work to poetry, his novels only began being published in the 1990's. He gained a wide readership in Europe and Latin America, but his books only began to be widely read in their English translations after his death.
He is the author of nine novels and two story collections, the most important of which are "The Savage Detectives," "By Night in Chile," and "2666." He won many prizes including the Premio Herralde de Novela and the Premio Romulo Gallegos. After his death, many hailed him as one of the most important Latin American authors of his generation.