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Written by Alejandra Y. Rivera
Arturo Belano (Alter Ego of Roberto Bolaño)
Poet, friend of Bibiano and fellow of the Faculty of Letters of the University of Concepción, he is the narrator throughout the novel, and is our intermediate between all the characters, although he does not have a participation as an actor in the novel beyond identifying Jules Defoe as Carlos Wider, he even describes himself is a mere "Unreliable" narrator that recounts what Bibiano and other characters have told him.
Carlos Wieder/Alberto Ruiz-Taggle
Self-taught, Writer / Poet, photographer of murders and macabre deaths, Pilot of the Chilean Air Force (FACH), undercover agent of the Pinochet regime, and serial killer. Antagonist of the narrator and is the focus of the novel. It is who moves the plot from start to finish. It is the axis of all the characters.
Poet, friend of the narrator, after being expelled from the university with Arturo, he spends the rest of his days as an employee of a shoe store, he is obsessed with Carlos Wieder and is dedicated to following his steps for many years.
Poet. He teaches Poetry workshops to which Arturo, Bibiano, Alberto Ruiz-Tagle, the Garmendia sisters and others attend. He is the nephew of a famous Russian general of the Second World War.
The Garmendia sisters
Poets and students of sociology and psychology in the University of Concepción. They attend the poetry workshop of Juan Stein, and they become friends of Ruiz-Tagle (they are sentimentally involved).
Poet and teacher of the workshop attended by Arturo Belano (the narrator), Bibiano, Marta Posadas and Alberto Ruiz-Tagle. He was killed by some Neo-Nazis when he came to the defense of a vagabond.
Marta "The Fat" Posadas
Medical student and participant of the Poetry workshop of Diego Soto, therefore she meets Bibiano, Arturo, and Alberto Ruiz-Tagle. We know details of Ruiz-Tagle thanks to her, which leaves the doubt if somehow Ruiz-Tagle liked to kill the skinny or if she was involved with the Pinochet regime. In the sixth paragraph of chapter 10 the narrator rambles thinking about her: "For a moment I imagined "the fat" working in a hospital in Concepción, married, reasonably happy. She had been, against her will, the devil's confidant, but she was alive. I even imagined her with children and turned into a wise and balanced reader."
He is a private detective hired to find Carlos Wieder. It is never clear if he murdered him given the limitations of the narrator, although he suggests it. He enters the novel in chapter eight and is described as: "one of the most famous policemen of the Allende era. Now he is a man over fifty, short, dark, excessively thin and with black hair combed with hair gel or fixative he received the Medal of Valor from Allende, the highest professional satisfaction of his life, a fuller life of bitterness that of joys, according to his own words. After the Coup he was imprisoned for three years and then went to Paris. He was married and had a son and had plans to return to Chile and start a new life."
Servant of the Garmendia sisters and survivor of Ruiz-Tagle's attack thanks to the fact that she managed to escape before.
Aunt of the sisters Garmendia. One of the victims of Ruiz Tagle with the Garmendia sisters.
Lieutenant Julio Cesar Muñoz Cano
Author of a book of memoirs titled “With the rope around his neck”, in which he describes the night of Wider's exhibition. It is a character created by the author to give credibility and truth to what happened on the night of the exhibition.
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