Wild Lord has an excellent essay up about the very nature of 2666:
To my mind, 2666 is — by a long shot — the greatest novel of this young century, and that distinction should stand for some time. It is sprawling, gorgeous, horrifying, hilarious, unbearably sad and just as unbearably beautiful. It is virtually indescribable.
The essay pairs well with Chris Andrews’ recently released book of criticism, Roberto Bolaño’s Fiction: An Expanding Universe. Here is an excerpt from that book:
The publication of The Savage Detectives by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2007 was a breakthrough. The novel was reviewed widely and at length, with almost unanimous enthusiasm. In its first year, The Savage Detectives sold 22,000 copies in hardcover, a remarkable success for a translated book. But the climactic moment in Bolaño’s posthumous North American campaign was undoubtedly the publication of 2666 in November 2008, which, to reclaim a term overused by marketing departments, truly was an event. When proof copies of the book began to circulate, Leon Neyfakh claimed in The New York Observer that carrying one was like “driving an open-top Porsche.”4 The reviews were even more numerous, and, overall, even more positive. Within days of publication, Farrar, Straus rushed out a second printing, bringing the total to more than 75,000 copies.