Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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
"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
"[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
"[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
"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
"[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
"[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
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.