The Savage Detectives astounds. A thriller set in the midst of an underground poetry movement featuring outlaw heroes who pass the time quizzing each other on structural terms of classical verse, it expertly balances seemingly incompatible tendencies. It is a book steeped in politics that manages to remain fervently anti-political; at once cultured and coarse; absolutely compelling but improbably tedious in places; decidedly omitting of all verse. Bolano called The Savage Detectives a “love letter” to his generation that came of age in the 60s and 70s – idealists fueled on art, sex, and drugs, for which the aesthetic quest, for the distillation of the meaning of life through art was urgent and essential. Yet the dissolution of these ideals through the poets’ descent into quotidian hazards (pettiness, debauchery, a daily living, the pretensions of the literary elite) provides the novel’s central conflict: a reminder that Literature (indeed all Art), despite its ambitions, can never attain its goal. Should we continue to search? If it provides the intellectual thrills of this brilliant novel, the answer is a resounding YES.— Sara, Atlanta
The Savage Detectives is an exuberant, raunchy, wildly inventive, and ambitious novel from one of the greatest Latin American authors of our age.
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.
“An utterly unique achievement--a modern epic rich in character and event. . . . [He is] the most important writer to emerge from Latin America since García Márquez.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“My favorite writer . . . The Savage Detectives is an ark bearing all the strange salvage of poetry and youth from catastrophes past and those yet to come.” —Nicole Krauss, author of The History of Love
“The Savage Detectives is deeply satisfying. . . . Bolaño's book throws down a great, clunking, formal gauntlet to his readers' conventional expectations. . . . A very good novel.” —Thomas McGonigle, Los Angeles Times
“One of the most respected and influential writers of [his] generation . . . At once funny and vaguely, pervasively, frightening.” —John Banville, The Nation
“A bizarre and mesmerizing novel . . . It's a lustful story--lust for sex, lust for self, lust for the written word.” —Esquire
“Roberto Bolaño's masterwork, at last translated into English, confirms this Chilean's status as Latin America's literary enfant terrible.” —Vogue
“Combustible . . . A glittering, tumbling diamond of a book . . . When you are done with this book, you will believe there is no engine more powerful than the human voice.” —Emily Carter Roiphe, Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
“An exuberantly sprawling, politically charged picaresque novel.” —Elle
“Wildly enjoyable . . . Bolaño beautifully manages to keep his comedy and his pathos in the same family.” —The New York Times Book Review