THE LAST GREAT ROAD BUM
Joe Sanderson died in pursuit of a life worth writing about. He was, in his words, a “road bum,” an adventurer and a storyteller, belonging to no place, people, or set of ideas. He was born into a childhood of middle-class contentment in Urbana, Illinois and died fighting with guerillas in Central America. With these facts, acclaimed novelist and journalist Héctor Tobar set out to write what would become The Last Great Road Bum.
A decade ago, Tobar came into possession of the personal writings of the late Joe Sanderson, which chart Sanderson’s freewheeling course across the known world, from Illinois to Jamaica, to Vietnam, to Nigeria, to El Salvador―a life determinedly an adventure, ending in unlikely, anonymous heroism.
The Last Great Road Bum is the great American novel Joe Sanderson never could have written, but did truly live―a fascinating, timely hybrid of fiction and nonfiction that only a master of both like Héctor Tobar could pull off.
Héctor Tobar is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and novelist. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Deep Down Dark, as well as The Barbarian Nurseries, Translation Nation, and The Tattooed Soldier. Tobar is also a contributing writer for the New York Times opinion pages and an associate professor at the University of California, Irvine. He has written for The New Yorker, the Los Angeles Times, and other publications. His short fiction has appeared in Best American Short Stories, L.A. Noir, ZYZZYVA, and Slate. The son of Guatemalan immigrants, he is a native of Los Angeles, where he lives with his family.