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.
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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.Read Full Review of The Savage Detectives: A Novel | See more reviews from Kirkus
"The Savage Detectives" was published in 1998, but its heart belongs to the Mexico City of the mid-1970s, when Bolaño was an avant-garde poet bristling with mad agendas.Read Full Review of The Savage Detectives: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Times
Wit and compassion beneath a darkly satiric vision of the literary world.Read Full Review of The Savage Detectives: A Novel | See more reviews from Guardian
Bolaño fashions an engrossing lost world of youth and utopian ambition, as particular and vivid as it is sad and uncontainable.Read Full Review of The Savage Detectives: A Novel | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly
The Savage Detectives is a rich, rambling book that ends up almost exactly where it begins...Bolaño, like an experienced travel guide, knows how to keep his audience captivated by even the wildest detour.Read Full Review of The Savage Detectives: A Novel | See more reviews from Blog Critics
Taking it all in requires stamina, but the novel bursts with marvelous stories, rude energy, and eccentric voices that ultimately reward your effort.Read Full Review of The Savage Detectives: A Novel
By turns dispirited and heartening, The Savage Detectives is about what happens to great expectations when the world isn’t interested.Read Full Review of The Savage Detectives: A Novel
Bolano's ambition is huge; his capacity to tell stories, never-ending.Read Full Review of The Savage Detectives: A Novel
He was, beyond a shadow of a doubt, an extraordinarily accomplished writer.Read Full Review of The Savage Detectives: A Novel
Bolaño’s books are dark, funny, allusive, erratic, and most importantly, sincere — at least, that’s what attracted to me about him.Read Full Review of The Savage Detectives: A Novel
Reading The Savage Detectives takes commitment...The final product is a world so rich and complete, so full of passion and contradiction, it’s hard to believe that it could possibly be contained between two covers.Read Full Review of The Savage Detectives: A Novel
There were times when I found myself thinking: “Hey, this isn’t fair, this is fiction, you can’t just, you know, write about yourself the whole time.” But then I realized that is, perhaps, exactly what Bolaño wanted me to be thinking.Read Full Review of The Savage Detectives: A Novel
Though it sounds like another long novel of literary gamesmanship—and it is—The Savage Detectives contains few inside jokes, and is as warm-blooded as “experimental novels” get.Read Full Review of The Savage Detectives: A Novel
As I finished the novel, I felt the sort of satisfaction that only comes post-coitus after a good meal or after a religious experience.Read Full Review of The Savage Detectives: A Novel
The Savage Detectives is supposed to be an “important” novel. It says so on the dust jacket. Maybe that should have been a warning that this book and I were not going to get along.Read Full Review of The Savage Detectives: A Novel
A love letter to all things raunchy, human, and unpredictable. The style is akin to the bardic genius of Ginsberg’s Howl, yet in a sprawling and all-inclusive novel of almost 600 pages, the effect is first to stun, and then to convert.Read Full Review of The Savage Detectives: A Novel
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