Skip to Content

Reading Groups

The Savage Detectives: Roberto Bolaño’s Rambunctious Road Trip with Samuel Rutter (Sold Out)

This product is currently out of stock and unavailable.

6 Sessions via Zoom Wednesdays, 7:00 pm EDT - 8:30 pm EDT March 3 to June 9, 2021

This reading group has reached its capacity. To join the waitlist, please email Allison Escoto at

Meeting Dates:
3/3, 3/24, 4/14, 5/5/, 5/26, 6/9

A soaring tale of literary adventure, Roberto Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives is packed with pimps, poets, detectives and dealers. It takes a huge cast of characters, some real, some fictional, to relate the exploits of Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima, two shaggy-haired troubadours in search of a writer in the Sonora desert who might just be the mother of all literature. Their antic quest is at turns darkly funny and tragic, as the pair and their coterie of artists and slackers do their best to survive the glories and misadventures of the 20th century.

A novel that Roberto Bolaño described as a love letter to his own generation, The Savage Detectives is a sweeping tableau of art, sex and politics, a kooky road trip that takes the reader from the deserts of Mexico to Europe, South America, the Middle East, Africa and beyond. This is the much-loved novel that cemented the Chilean author’s reputation as one of Latin America’s most ambitious and admired novelists when it was first published in to great acclaim in 1998.

No previous knowledge of Latin American literature is assumed, and there will be no required reading apart from the novel itself. In meetings we will discuss the themes of the book along with Bolaño’s signature prose style, and the novel’s sprawling structure. The Center for Fiction takes no responsibility for participants who quit their jobs to go and write poems in the desert.

We will read and discuss the novel over the course of six meetings:

  • Session I: Part 1: Mexicans Lost in Mexico (pp 3-141)
  • Session II: Part 2: The Savage Detectives – Chapters 1-7 (pp 142 – 249)
  • Session III: Part 2: The Savage Detectives – Chapters 8-14 (pp 250 – 361)
  • Session IV: Part 2: The Savage Detectives – Chapters 15-20 (pp 362 – 475)
  • Session V: Part 2: The Savage Detectives – Chapters 21-26 (pp 476 – 588)
  • Session VI: Part 3: The Deserts of Sonora (pp 589 – 648)

Required Text:
Bolaño, Roberto. The Savage Detectives. (trans. Roberto Bolaño) New York: Picador, 2007. 648pp


Led by

  • Samuel Rutter

    Samuel Rutter

    Samuel Rutter

    Samuel Rutter is a writer and translator from Melbourne, Australia with an extensive research background in contemporary literature from Latin America. He has translated novels, stories, screenplays and comics from French, Spanish and Catalan, and was awarded a PEN Translates Prize in 2016. His work has appeared in Harper’s, the White Review, Gulf Coast, and T magazine.