Monica Maristain: If you hadn’t been a writer, what would you have been?
Roberto Bolaño: I would like to have been a homicide detective, much more than being a writer. I am absolutely sure of that. A string of homicides. I’d have been someone who could come back to the scene of the crime alone, by night and not be afraid of ghosts. Perhaps then I might really have become crazy. But being a detective that could easily be resolved with a bullet to the mouth.Bonus interview with the translator of Amulet, Chris Andrews.
John Banville's review in the Guardian offers some good backstory,
It seems the book is based on a real incident, when a person was trapped in UNAM during violent disturbances in Mexico in the autumn of 1968. In September that year, after months of agitation on campus and in the streets, the Mexican government sent troops into the university to quell student political protests; there were killings, and many staff members and students were arrested. The troubles culminated in the army massacre of hundreds – thousands, some claim – of students and protestors in the main square of the Tlatelolco district of the city on 2 October. This atrocity is Bolaño's true subject here, even though Auxilio talks of anything and everything else, circling the central tragedy to which she is a peculiarly well-placed witness.The Mexican writer Carmen Boullosa describes the literary scene referenced in Amulet, Bolaño in Mexico and her conversation with the author can be found at BOMB.
Excellent background on the Tlatelolco massacre from NPR including a archival video and photo gallery.
For a primer on how Amulet relates to the rest of Bolaño's work check out this post at The Millions.