“Now I am a mother and a married woman, but not long ago I led a life of crime.” So Bianca begins her tale of growing up the hard way in Rome in A Little Lumpen Novelita.
Orphaned overnight as a teenager—“our parents died in a car crash on their first vacation without us”—she drops out of school and gets a crappy job. At night, she is plagued by a terrible brightness, and soon she drifts into bad company. Her little brother brings home two petty criminals who need a place to stay. As the four of them share the family apartment and plot a strange crime, Bianca learns she can fall even lower.
Electric and tense with foreboding, with its jagged, propulsive short chapters beautifully translated by Natasha Wimmer, A Little Lumpen Novelita—one of the last novels Roberto Bolaño published—delivers a surprising, fractured fairy tale of taking control of one’s fate.