Roberto Bolaño was posthumously awarded recently when his critically acclaimed novel 2666 won the fiction prize at the National Book Critics Circle, an honor bestowed last year upon Dominican author Junot Diaz for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Although Bolaño died in 2003, his translator, Natasha Wimmer, accepted the award on his behalf, recalling a time when the author once said that "posthumous" sounded like a Roman gladiator.
The success of 2666 has been quite surprising, given the novel's incredibly long length and the complexity of the story it tells. But after being translated into English last year, it was released in the United States to rave reviews, with the NY Times naming it one of the 10 Best Books of 2008.
Juan Felipe Herrera, the son of migrant workers from Mexico, won the award for poetry, which for the first time was given to two individual recipients. Herrera won for his collection entitled, Half the World in Light, which celebrates his Chicano identity, while August Kleinzahler also won a poetry award for Sleeping It Off in Rapid City.
The National Book Critics Circle was founded in 1974 and consists of more than 900 book reviewers interested in honoring quality writing. It's annual awards are given to the best books written in the categories of autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.