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The Savage Detectives: A Novel

by

The Savage Detectives: A Novel Cover

 

Awards

The Rooster 2008 Morning News Tournament of Books Nominee

Staff Pick

A decidedly Mexican novel that spans the entire globe, The Savage Detectives is Homer's Odyssey, Hemingway's A Moveable Feast and Borges's Ficciones all rolled into one — and somehow becomes more than the sum of its parts in the process. Beautifully vibrant language leaps off every page, magical realism battles with stark reality, and the constantly rotating cast of hundreds never feels shallow or poorly developed. Intriguing and innovative from the very first page, The Savage Detectives is a must-read for pretty much anybody, and my favorite book of 2007.
Recommended by Gin, Powells.com

Put simply, Bolaño's novel The Savage Detectives is a retelling of Homer's Odyssey. The comparison to Joyce's literary monument Ulysses comes naturally, and Bolaño's work is arguably the better of the two, though it can also be considered homage to Joyce. The Savage Detectives at once mirrors and furthers the epic, is expansive where Ulysses is mysterious, and plies new understandings of people, religions, and nations from its reader in ways that Ulysses does not. Bolaño's tale is that of Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima, two friends who have gone in search of a missing poet, Cesárea Tinajera. Told in pieces by many characters over the course of decades, The Savage Detectives is a sometimes violent, passionate story of lost men in search of the puzzle that is before you.
Recommended by Gin, Powells.com

Easily the year's most acclaimed literary sensation, Roberto Bolaño is enjoying a remarkably unprecedented ascendancy in fame. The Chilean novelist and poet, whose exaltation has long been celebrated throughout the Spanish-speaking world, is posthumously sweeping the English-speaking countries (he died in 2003). Semana, a Colombian weekly magazine, recently published a list of the 100 best Spanish-language novels of the past 25 years, which, not surprisingly, included three works by Bolaño (number 3: The Savage Detectives; 4: 2666; and 14: Distant Star).

It was also recently announced that Natasha Wimmer (who translated The Savage Detectives) was awarded a $20,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant to support the translation of his masterwork 2666. According to the NEA, "Six weeks before he died, his fellow Latin American novelists hailed him as the most important figure of his generation at an international conference he attended in Seville." His work is widely considered to be hailing a significant change of direction for Latin American literature as a whole.

The Savage Detectives, which Bolaño called a "love letter" to his generation, is an accomplished and thorough effort. No amount of praise or critical elucidation could possibly do this epic story (at nearly 600 pages) justice, as it's both astonishingly original and magnificently composed. The highly autobiographical novel tells the tale of a group of "visceral realist" poets (a fictionalization of the "infrarealism" movement Bolaño helped spawn in the 1970s), their days drifting throughout Mexico and western Europe, and their search for the elusive poet Cesárera Tinajero. The main characters, if the book can be said to actually have any, are the founders of the so-called "visceral realist" movement, Arturo Belano (a loose stand-in for Bolaño's own life) and Ulises Lima (Bolaño's poet-friend Mario Santiago). Told mostly in the style of an oral biography spawning 21 years, The Savage Detectives is a must-read for ardent fans of literature and poetry, as the novel chronicles the wanderlust of men and women for whom poetry is something well beyond the cafes and yellowing pages of forgotten verse.

Though he often garners comparisons to Borges, Pynchon, and Cortázar (a claim that, while not entirely erroneous, does little to exemplify his singular style), Bolaño's genius is, in part, his ability to synthesize the elements of literature which his forebears had set as standard, usurp them as his own, and then transcend them in an erudite manner heretofore unseen. Roberto Bolaño's newfound fame is, indeed, well deserved, and The Savage Detectives is one of the finest novels to come along in quite some time.
Recommended by Gin, Powells.com

Review-A-Day

"[A] bizarre and mesmerizing novel....Just now published in English, the book is a fist-to-gut introduction to a deceptively powerful writer who died at age 50 in 2003. It's a lustful story — lust for sex, lust for self, lust for the written word....Their antics will repulse you. Your moral compass will be pissed upon. But in a world where a guy who cuts up his penis with a blade is considered a 'real man,' Bolaño's visceral realists shine." Buddy Kite, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

New Year's Eve, 1975: Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima, founders of the visceral realist movement in poetry, leave Mexico City in a borrowed white Impala. Their quest: to track down the obscure, vanished poet Cesaea Tinajero. A violent showdown in the Sonora desert turns search to flight; twenty years later Belano and Lima are still on the run.

The explosive first long work by "the most exciting writer to come from south of the Rio Grande in a long time" (Ilan Stavans, Los Angeles Times), The Savage Detectives follows Belano and Lima through the eyes of the people whose paths they cross in Central America, Europe, Israel, and West Africa. This chorus includes the muses of visceral realism, the beautiful Font sisters; their father, an architect interned in a Mexico City asylum; a sensitive young follower of Octavio Paz; a foul-mouthed American graduate student; a French girl with a taste for the Marquis de Sade; the great-granddaughter of Leon Trotsky; a Chilean stowaway with a mystical gift for numbers; the anorexic heiress to a Mexican underwear empire; an Argentinian photojournalist in Angola; and assorted hangers-on, detractors, critics, lovers, employers, vagabonds, real-life literary figures, and random acquaintances.

A polymathic descendant of Borges and Pynchon, Roberto Bolano traces the hidden connection between literature and violence in a world where national boundaries are fluid and death lurks in the shadow of the avant-garde. The Savage Detectives is a dazzling original, the first great Latin American novel of the twenty-first century.

Review:

"[B]lazingly original...[a] masterpiece....One of the most entertaining books about writers and their discontents since Boswell's Life of Johnson. A brilliant novel, fully deserving of its high international reputation." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"The journey for all, including the reader, may prove arduous, but as a picaresque road novel, coupled with successful character creation, intriguing experimentation, and a unique premise, it provides a rewarding reading experience." Library Journal

Review:

"For readers interested in a straight narrative, this book will disappoint, but those who enjoy voice and character will find much to satisfy them." Booklist

Review:

"[A] deeply satisfying, yet overwhelming reading experience....Is it worth our time? Is it a good novel or a great novel? Time alone will supply the adjective 'great,' but what I can say now is: The Savage Detectives is a very good novel." Los Angeles Times

Review:

"[An] utterly unique achievement — a modern epic rich in character and event, suffused in every sentence with Bolano's unsettling mix of precision and mystery." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"The Savage Detectives is a masterpiece, but unlike other postwar masterworks, it doesn't proclaim its importance right away....More a series of encounters than a novel, the entire work resonates like a prose poem, returning us to the haunting image of young people marching toward history's abyss, only their song remaining." Cleveland Plain Dealer

Review:

"[C]omplex, numbingly chaotic and sinuously memorable....Some of the book's best passages are here; but the formlessness, the cascading miscellany...can make the book, or at least the reader, founder. Many gleaming lights are displayed, but foundering nonetheless." Richard Eder, The New York Times

Synopsis:

New Year's Eve, 1975: Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima, founders of the visceral realist movement in poetry, leave Mexico City in a borrowed white Impala. Their quest: to track down the obscure, vanished poet Cesárea Tinajero. A violent showdown in the Sonora desert turns search to flight; twenty years later Belano and Lima are still on the run.

The explosive first long work by "the most exciting writer to come from south of the Rio Grande in a long time" (Ilan Stavans, Los Angeles Times), The Savage Detectives follows Belano and Lima through the eyes of the people whose paths they cross in Central America, Europe, Israel, and West Africa. This chorus includes the muses of visceral realism, the beautiful Font sisters; their father, an architect interned in a Mexico City asylum; a sensitive young follower of Octavio Paz; a foul-mouthed American graduate student; a French girl with a taste for the Marquis de Sade; the great-granddaughter of Leon Trotsky; a Chilean stowaway with a mystical gift for numbers; the anorexic heiress to a Mexican underwear empire; an Argentinian photojournalist in Angola; and assorted hangers-on, detractors, critics, lovers, employers, vagabonds, real-life literary figures, and random acquaintances.

A polymathic descendant of Borges and Pynchon, Roberto Bolaño traces the hidden connection between literature and violence in a world where national boundaries are fluid and death lurks in the shadow of the avant-garde. The Savage Detectives is a dazzling original, the first great Latin American novel of the twenty-first century.

Synopsis:

National Bestseller
 

In this dazzling novel, the book that established his international reputation, Roberto Bolaño tells the story of two modern-day Quixotes--the last survivors of an underground literary movement, perhaps of literature itself--on a tragicomic quest through a darkening, entropic universe: our own. The Savage Detectives is an exuberant, raunchy, wildly inventive, and ambitious novel from one of the greatest Latin American authors of our age.

About the Author

Roberto Bolaño was born in 1953 in Santiago, Chile, and later lived in Mexico, Paris, and Spain: he wrote nine novels, two story collections, and five books of poetry, before dying in July 2003 at the age of 50. Seven more of his books are forthcoming from New Directions.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Edward, March 29, 2008 (view all comments by Edward)
This novel's imagination expands into a magical diorama. The author flirts with danger and then gleefully accelerates away from it. The novel is spendiferously enjoyable (as well as, finally, full of lament), in part because Bolaño, despite all the game-playing, has a worldly, literal sensibility. His atmospheres are solidly imagined, but the tone is breezy and colloquial and amazingly unliterary. With much ado and thanks rightfully owed to the translator Natasha Wimmer, for editing much of the slang and converting it; so that we humble English readers can too enjoy its sublimity.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(12 of 20 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780374191481
Author:
Bolano, Roberto
Publisher:
Farrar Straus Giroux
Translator:
Wimmer, Natasha
Author:
Bolaano, Roberto
Author:
Wimmer, Natasha
Author:
Bolao, Roberto
Subject:
General
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
April 3, 2007
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
656
Dimensions:
9.00 x 6.00 in

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » Morning News Tournament » Tournament of Books 2008
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The Savage Detectives: A Novel Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$27.00 In Stock
Product details 656 pages Farrar, Straus and Giroux - English 9780374191481 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

A decidedly Mexican novel that spans the entire globe, The Savage Detectives is Homer's Odyssey, Hemingway's A Moveable Feast and Borges's Ficciones all rolled into one — and somehow becomes more than the sum of its parts in the process. Beautifully vibrant language leaps off every page, magical realism battles with stark reality, and the constantly rotating cast of hundreds never feels shallow or poorly developed. Intriguing and innovative from the very first page, The Savage Detectives is a must-read for pretty much anybody, and my favorite book of 2007.

"Staff Pick" by ,

Put simply, Bolaño's novel The Savage Detectives is a retelling of Homer's Odyssey. The comparison to Joyce's literary monument Ulysses comes naturally, and Bolaño's work is arguably the better of the two, though it can also be considered homage to Joyce. The Savage Detectives at once mirrors and furthers the epic, is expansive where Ulysses is mysterious, and plies new understandings of people, religions, and nations from its reader in ways that Ulysses does not. Bolaño's tale is that of Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima, two friends who have gone in search of a missing poet, Cesárea Tinajera. Told in pieces by many characters over the course of decades, The Savage Detectives is a sometimes violent, passionate story of lost men in search of the puzzle that is before you.

"Staff Pick" by ,

Easily the year's most acclaimed literary sensation, Roberto Bolaño is enjoying a remarkably unprecedented ascendancy in fame. The Chilean novelist and poet, whose exaltation has long been celebrated throughout the Spanish-speaking world, is posthumously sweeping the English-speaking countries (he died in 2003). Semana, a Colombian weekly magazine, recently published a list of the 100 best Spanish-language novels of the past 25 years, which, not surprisingly, included three works by Bolaño (number 3: The Savage Detectives; 4: 2666; and 14: Distant Star).

It was also recently announced that Natasha Wimmer (who translated The Savage Detectives) was awarded a $20,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant to support the translation of his masterwork 2666. According to the NEA, "Six weeks before he died, his fellow Latin American novelists hailed him as the most important figure of his generation at an international conference he attended in Seville." His work is widely considered to be hailing a significant change of direction for Latin American literature as a whole.

The Savage Detectives, which Bolaño called a "love letter" to his generation, is an accomplished and thorough effort. No amount of praise or critical elucidation could possibly do this epic story (at nearly 600 pages) justice, as it's both astonishingly original and magnificently composed. The highly autobiographical novel tells the tale of a group of "visceral realist" poets (a fictionalization of the "infrarealism" movement Bolaño helped spawn in the 1970s), their days drifting throughout Mexico and western Europe, and their search for the elusive poet Cesárera Tinajero. The main characters, if the book can be said to actually have any, are the founders of the so-called "visceral realist" movement, Arturo Belano (a loose stand-in for Bolaño's own life) and Ulises Lima (Bolaño's poet-friend Mario Santiago). Told mostly in the style of an oral biography spawning 21 years, The Savage Detectives is a must-read for ardent fans of literature and poetry, as the novel chronicles the wanderlust of men and women for whom poetry is something well beyond the cafes and yellowing pages of forgotten verse.

Though he often garners comparisons to Borges, Pynchon, and Cortázar (a claim that, while not entirely erroneous, does little to exemplify his singular style), Bolaño's genius is, in part, his ability to synthesize the elements of literature which his forebears had set as standard, usurp them as his own, and then transcend them in an erudite manner heretofore unseen. Roberto Bolaño's newfound fame is, indeed, well deserved, and The Savage Detectives is one of the finest novels to come along in quite some time.

"Review A Day" by , "[A] bizarre and mesmerizing novel....Just now published in English, the book is a fist-to-gut introduction to a deceptively powerful writer who died at age 50 in 2003. It's a lustful story — lust for sex, lust for self, lust for the written word....Their antics will repulse you. Your moral compass will be pissed upon. But in a world where a guy who cuts up his penis with a blade is considered a 'real man,' Bolaño's visceral realists shine." (read the entire Esquire review)
"Review" by , "[B]lazingly original...[a] masterpiece....One of the most entertaining books about writers and their discontents since Boswell's Life of Johnson. A brilliant novel, fully deserving of its high international reputation."
"Review" by , "The journey for all, including the reader, may prove arduous, but as a picaresque road novel, coupled with successful character creation, intriguing experimentation, and a unique premise, it provides a rewarding reading experience."
"Review" by , "For readers interested in a straight narrative, this book will disappoint, but those who enjoy voice and character will find much to satisfy them."
"Review" by , "[A] deeply satisfying, yet overwhelming reading experience....Is it worth our time? Is it a good novel or a great novel? Time alone will supply the adjective 'great,' but what I can say now is: The Savage Detectives is a very good novel."
"Review" by , "[An] utterly unique achievement — a modern epic rich in character and event, suffused in every sentence with Bolano's unsettling mix of precision and mystery."
"Review" by , "The Savage Detectives is a masterpiece, but unlike other postwar masterworks, it doesn't proclaim its importance right away....More a series of encounters than a novel, the entire work resonates like a prose poem, returning us to the haunting image of young people marching toward history's abyss, only their song remaining."
"Review" by , "[C]omplex, numbingly chaotic and sinuously memorable....Some of the book's best passages are here; but the formlessness, the cascading miscellany...can make the book, or at least the reader, founder. Many gleaming lights are displayed, but foundering nonetheless."
"Synopsis" by ,
New Year's Eve, 1975: Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima, founders of the visceral realist movement in poetry, leave Mexico City in a borrowed white Impala. Their quest: to track down the obscure, vanished poet Cesárea Tinajero. A violent showdown in the Sonora desert turns search to flight; twenty years later Belano and Lima are still on the run.

The explosive first long work by "the most exciting writer to come from south of the Rio Grande in a long time" (Ilan Stavans, Los Angeles Times), The Savage Detectives follows Belano and Lima through the eyes of the people whose paths they cross in Central America, Europe, Israel, and West Africa. This chorus includes the muses of visceral realism, the beautiful Font sisters; their father, an architect interned in a Mexico City asylum; a sensitive young follower of Octavio Paz; a foul-mouthed American graduate student; a French girl with a taste for the Marquis de Sade; the great-granddaughter of Leon Trotsky; a Chilean stowaway with a mystical gift for numbers; the anorexic heiress to a Mexican underwear empire; an Argentinian photojournalist in Angola; and assorted hangers-on, detractors, critics, lovers, employers, vagabonds, real-life literary figures, and random acquaintances.

A polymathic descendant of Borges and Pynchon, Roberto Bolaño traces the hidden connection between literature and violence in a world where national boundaries are fluid and death lurks in the shadow of the avant-garde. The Savage Detectives is a dazzling original, the first great Latin American novel of the twenty-first century.

"Synopsis" by ,
National Bestseller
 

In this dazzling novel, the book that established his international reputation, Roberto Bolaño tells the story of two modern-day Quixotes--the last survivors of an underground literary movement, perhaps of literature itself--on a tragicomic quest through a darkening, entropic universe: our own. The Savage Detectives is an exuberant, raunchy, wildly inventive, and ambitious novel from one of the greatest Latin American authors of our age.

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