‘Police Rat’ by Roberto Bolaño, translated by Chris Andrews

‘Police Rat’ is a Kafkaesque tale that has stayed with me, almost a decade after I first came across it. Bolaño’s Pepe the Cop is a regular police rat, dealing with a disturbing phenomenon he’s never before come across: a rat who kills other rats for pleasure.

Rats are capable of killing rats. The sentence echoed in my cranial cavity until I woke. I knew that nothing would ever be the same again. 

Pepe is also the nephew of the famous ‘Josephine the Singer’ of the Kafka story, which you can read here. The Bolaño story is, like Kafka’s original, a profound meditation on what makes us human, despite its setting in the underground sewers of rat world.

Published in The Insufferable Gaucho, New Directions, 2010

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