'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, gets a crappy job, sees a terrible brightness at night, and 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 drift 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 Bolano published - delivers a surprising, fractured fairy tale of taking control of one's fate.