The Part About the Crimes 1: How Factual Is All This?
I’m about 20 pages from finishing the half of Part 4 we’ve committed to for tomorrow. For now let me suggest some places to go to see how closely the novel matches up with the facts of the Ciudad Juarez femicides, insofar as they have been determined.
Thanks to another blog, I have found a page compiled by the translator, Natasha Wimmer, entitled “Notes for an Annotated Edition of 2666”
I only read the comments on the parts that we’ve already read, but I skimmed the rest, which includes a quote from the London Review of Books review of The Savage Detectives from one Benjamin O. Kunkel.
“Professor Kessler,” the fellow in the conversation at the diner in The Part About Fate (264-267), is a stand-in for Robert K. Ressler, the man who began the study of the psychology of serial killers in the late ’70s:
Wimmer says that Klaus Haas is fictional, but that he shares a few biographical details with the man arrested for the murders, the Egyptian-American chemist Abdel Latif Sharif, who had been convicted for sexual crimes including rape in the United States throughout the ’80s before arriving in Juarez in 1994.
For more on Sharif as well as much else besides, there is a very good article by Alma Guillermoprieto in The New Yorker from the era: “A Hundred Women” (9/29/03)
Sharif died in jail of natural causes in 2006.
The earliest documentary that I know of on the topic: Lourdes Portillo, Señorita Extraviada (2001)
I’ve taught it: it has the expected rhetoric, and interviews a lot of the victims’ families, but it won’t tell you anything Bolaño doesn’t show you.
A book in English:
Sergio González Rodríguez, The Femicide Machine
(MIT Press/ Semiotexte)
González also wrote a book not translated into English, in 2006, Huesos en el desierto. Bolaño met him after reading some of his news reports and obviously he is the basis for “Sergio González” in the novel.
Categorically, the most interesting of the victims is the American, Lucy Anne Sander, and the sheriff who goes after her, Harry Magaña. I do not know if that is an invention of Bolaño’s: the access we have to Magaña’s scene of death suggests that it is.
Diana Washington Váldez, The Killing Fields: Harvest of Women (Peace at the Border, 2006)
Teresa Rodríguez, The Daughters of Juárez: A True Story of Serial Murder South of the Border (Atria Press, 2008)
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