The Savage Detectives


The Savage Detectives

infobox Book |
name = The Savage Detectives
title_orig = Los Detectives Salvajes
translator =


image_caption =
author = Roberto Bolaño
illustrator =
cover_artist =
country = Chile
language = Spanish
series =
genre =
publisher =
release_date = 1998
english_release_date =
media_type =
pages =
isbn =
preceded_by =
followed_by =

"The Savage Detectives" ("Los Detectives Salvajes" in Spanish) is an award winning novel written by the Chilean author Roberto Bolaño in 1998. Natasha Wimmer's English translation was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2007. It tells the story of a search for a female Mexican poet, Cesárea Tinajero, by two other poets, the Chilean Arturo Belano and the Mexican Ulises Lima.

Plot summary

The novel is narrated entirely in first person, although there are numerous different narrators. The first section is told by a 17 year old amateur poet Juan García Madero. It centers around his admittance to a roving gang of poets who refer to themselves as the Visceral Realists. He drops out of the university and travels around Mexico City, having numerous sexual encounters and becoming increasingly involved with the myriad denizens of Visceral Realism.

The second section consists of interviews with a variety of characters from various locations around North America, Europe, and the Middle East, all of whom have come into contact, in one way or another, with the founding leaders of the Visceral Realists, Ulises Lima and Arturo Belano. Each narrator has his or her own opinion of the two, although the consensus is that they are detached drifters and literary elitists that often leave bitter tastes in the mouths of those they meet. We hear the two spend years in a European purgatory, frequenting bars and camp sites, and generally living a bohemian lifestyle. Lima, the more introverted of the two, serves a fleeting stint in an Israeli prison, while Belano challenges a literary critic to an absurd sword fight on a Spanish beach.

The final third of the book is again narrated by Juan García Madero, now in the Sonora Desert with Lima, Belano, and a prostitute named Lupe. The section involves the "Savage Detectives" closing in on the elusive poet Cesarea Tinajero, while being chased by a pimp named Alberto and a corrupt Mexican police officer.

Partial Character List


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