Roberto Bolano - The Skating Rink (4 stars)

Roberto Bolano - The Skating Rink


Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño’s seemingly boundless posthumous career continues to flex its muscles with this magnificent murder mystery. Centering upon the love and lust felt by three men for fallen Spanish figure skater Nuria, a triad of alternating male narrators – a civil servant whose longing drives him to embezzlement, an adroit small-time entrepreneur, and a poetic vagabond – swiftly skirt around the crime, weaving a narrative that draws in political corruption, personal longing and deep class divides.

This highly coloured text is wrought with voices of great urgency and yet penned with a delectable lightness of touch. Most impressively, this split-narrative work is gifted with such unity that it lends the impression that it has been cast by Bolaño with a single breath. A sense of the surreal punctuates its otherwise gritty pages, and an enigmatic central scene – a rink built inside the abandoned remains of a ruined palace – perfectly echoes the otherworldly skill of its accomplished author.

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