New Years 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.
The Savage Detectives is less about narrative and more about literature itself. If you enjoy the first 120 pages, read on and you'll likely find your voice added to those in praise of what is considered Bolaño's masterwork. However, if you're still finding it hard going around page 100, you might want to call it a day! (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
The New York Times - James Wood
[A] marvelous, sad, finally sustaining novel.
The New Yorker - Daniel Zalewski
Bolaño fills his canvas with messy Lawrencian emotions but places them within a coolly cerebral frame. It’s a style worthy of its own name: visceral modernism.
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.
Booklist - Rebecca Singer
For readers interested in a straight narrative, this book will disappoint, but those who enjoy voice and character will find much to satisfy them.
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.
Starred Review. Bolaño fashions an engrossing lost world of youth and utopian ambition, as particular and vivid as it is sad and uncontainable.
Roberto Bolaño was born in Chile
on April 28, 1953. For much of
his life he lived a nomadic
existence, living in Chile,
Mexico, El Salvador, France and
Spain. During the 1970s, he
formed an avant-garde group
called infrarealism with other
writers and poets in Mexico
where he lived after leaving
Chile when it fell under
military dictatorship. He
returned to Chile in 1972 but
left again the next year when
General Augusto Pinochet came to
In the early eighties, he
finally settled in the small
town of Blanes, near Gerona in
Northern Spain, where he died on
July 15, 2003 of liver disease
while awaiting a transplant. He
is survived by his Spanish wife
and his son and daughter.
Set during the height of the Cold War - with the world divided into East and West - 54 features Cary Grant as a real-life spy dealing with Italian partisans, KGB agents, Parisian lowlifes, and cameos by David Niven, Marshal Tito, and Grace Kelly.
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