Composition This novel caught me by surprise Of course I knew that Mr Buarque has talent, being considered one of the finest interpreters of bossanova today A man, this Chico, who gets a high consideration in a country Brazil where another successful musician like Gilberto Gil spent five years playing the minister of Culture and did some good things And yet, I didn t know Buarque as a novelist To tell you the truth, the only Brazilian writer name I remember by heart is the sepia pictured, pointy bearded Machado De Asis although I have never read anything by him.
Let s talk about Chico and his Budapest.
This is a very clever novel written in a very personal style and I m glad I picked up this book pretty much by choice in one of my usual Saturday expeditions scouring the second hand bookshops.
An unusual novel, yes, but nonetheless related to other things I read in the past combining the introspection of Nooteboom with the magical realism of Borges in a plot that reminded me the Ringmaster s Daughter by Gaarder.
Whereas Gaarder wrote about a guy getting his living by selling to famous novelists beginnings and whole first chapters of stories to develop in successful books, Buarque s Jos Costa is a ghost writer or as he puts it an anonymous writer.
Quiet Be quiet Jos Costa is not the kind of man wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and thinking about blowing up the parliament in Brasilia at the frenzy chimes of Bat Macumba by the Os Mutantes And Jos Costa is neither a hacker, or the supporter of some Brazilian Pirate Party asking for the freedom from copyright and crying against Sopa.
In fact, Jos he s quite the opposite And yet the copyright and royalties play a key note and a key role in his daily life of anonymous ghost writer He gets the money without showing his face He s happy, he s content of standing in the shadow while his associate Alvaro works on enlarging the portfolio of politicians, bishops, professors interested in having Jos writing their public speeches and essays.
Then, Jos Costa spends one night in Budapest on his way back from an anonymous writers world congress in Istanbul From that moment on his own identity will be divided into the anonymous ghost writer Jos Costa in Rio de Janeiro and the wandering Zsoze surname K sta name in Budapest And now I will say no .
For this is a novel open tothan a single interpretation and the almost impossible meeting of a Brazilian mind with the Hungarian mentality Those who spent many hours of their lives studying on their own unusual half forgotten languages for the sake of it I did it , will find in Budapest a book to enshrine.
On the recommendation of our Portuguese language editor, several of us at Global Voices have been reading Budapest ahead of our trip to the eponymous city for our annual summit I ll confess that in spite of being a huge fan of Chico Buarque s music, I wasn t aware that he was also a novelist, and one of considerable talent A meditation on the pleasures and pains of writing, of foreignness, of learning a foreign language and the maddening complexities of that thing called love, Budapest follows the talented ghostwriter and existential antihero Jos Costa as he zigzags back and forth mentally as much as physically between his home city of Rio de Janeiro and Budapest, seat of his fascination with the Hungarian language, said to be the only language the devil respects It s quite a feat that Buarque never loses the thread of this wild, fragmented and completely engaging narrative, which is rendered in a rhythmic prose at once spare and layered, littered with semi colons and commas where others would put fullstops or periods, as you Yankees like to say.
My comments refer, of course, to the English translation of the novel, by Alison Entrekin Translating a novel is already a feat in and of itself translating a Portuguese language novel whose subject is the Hungarian language is something else altogether Entrekin s translation flows nevertheless like the waters of the Danube and Guanabara Bay combined.
What falling in love with a country, with a language can make with a man Can he one day forget about the words which softly entered his ears lodging inside his heart Budapest is a book precisely about this subject.
Chico Buarque, one of the most notable names of Brazilian Popular Music, shows us that his brightness goes beyond music In this book, Jose Costa, the main character, is a ghostwriter he writes books for other people, remaining in the shadows while the proclaimed authors are recognized That, however, is not a problem to him Not now, at least.
All his life changes after a ghostwriters meeting in Budapest While his stay in Hungary, Hungarian takes root so deeply in his soul that he can t go back to his life He must learn and immerse himself completely in this language which starts to feel like home.
An outstanding story about an unconventional love For those who want to knowabout Chico Buarque s work on Brazilian Popular Music highly recommended , here are some links to his songs Jo o e Maria Constru o C lice Lovely South American escapism into pause for the build up Hungary If you liked this, check out Bola o.
It was Chico Buarque s first sentence It should be against the law to mock someone who tries his luck in a foreign language, that really sucked me in As a language learner, I know all too well the life sucking frustration and humiliation that comes with being mocked for your efforts It is with this honesty and candor that Budapest, written in prose, layers the story of a Brazillian ghost writer, Jos Costa As a ghost writer, this native of S o Paulo is employed by an agency to namelessly write commentaries, biographies and autobiographies for the presumed author As book sales begin to inflate, so does Jos s ego, which leaves his wife and obese child to bear the brunt of his arrogant attitude Jose s wife Vanda and he decide to go to Budapest for a quick vacation But while in the airport Vanda decides at the last minute that she d rather go to England instead of Budapest giving Jose the freedom to travel alone Going solo opens up some pretty wide doors to a whole new set of passions and loves which grab hold of him and keep him hypnotized by their beauty Budapest is an illustration of language, love, and self interest and how these dynamics blend together to form us, and destroy us Chico Buarque puts a new twist on language commentary and travel writing to give us an extremely contagious read.
Not Quite LiteratureBy the Brazilian superstar composer and musician, highly praised poet, playwright, and novelist It is sharply and efficiently executed, and closely mimics good literature In a number of places it is clear that Buarque has thought about the problems of translation, the ways literary novels are constructed, the kinds of plots that international fiction might have, the speed they need, the flash of images, the hints of depth On some pages, in some strong images, with some sharp ideas, it is infinitesimally close to literature It s like a mix of William Gibson not the science fiction, but the chic details of Pattern Recognition and Cees Nooteboom not the Nooteboom of the occasional page of good prose, but the ridiculously over rated author, who flutters through simplistic cultural cliches.
For an introduction to Buarque, in English, see The Boston Review, July August 2007, 35.
It had been long since I devoured a book in just a couple of days not in a rush to make my reading challenge in time, but because the story was captivating and, in a way, made me feel I was the main character myself.
Without a doubt my time living in Hungary and listening to Bossa Nova, have a lot of fault on this Also my love for languages and the fact that I too, with way less success than Zsose K sta, tried to learn the only language that the devil respects, Hungarian It should be against the law to mock someone who tries his luck in a foreign language.
At the time of giving a name to this labrador, Jose Costa proposes imposes JOHN In his labyrinthian spirit it was obvious firstly, a dog is a cabot John cabot is the anglicized name of Giovanni Caboto, a Venetian navigator of the 15th century who explored Canada on behalf of Henry VII of England For these obvious reasons, the Labrador being part of Canada the name of John Cabot was given to this adorable puppy.
Who grows up obviously A dog like no other Above all he did not think of himself as a dog on the other hand he was a gourmet, all the same a little thief of bread, but especially a philosopher particularly attentive to the conversation.
In short nothing of a dog One day, a Hungarian friend of origin, brings a book to Jose Costa by saying to him you who train in all the corners of Brazil, read it, it will please you.
A title Budapest.
Jose Costa looks at his friend a little taken aback, who adds Yes, yes, you will see And here it was a treat of reading Jose Costa was inaccessible for a day and a half the first night, on the couch, John looked attentively Jose Costa plunged into his bookThe next day, Jose Costa discovered his devoured book in the true sense of the word.
On the chair, John looked like he was saying, I ve devoured Budapest faster than you, na.
na na Jos Costa Um Escritor An Nimo Pago Para Produzir Artigos De Jornal, Discursos Pol Ticos, Catas De Amor, Monografias E Autobiografias Romanceadas Que Outros Assinam Um Dia, Regressando De Um Congresso De Escritores An Nimos Em Istambul, Obrigado A Fazer Uma Escala For Ada Em Budapeste Fascinado Pela L Ngua Magiar, Segundo As M S L Nguas, A Nica L Ngua Que O Diabo Respeita , Jos Costa Retorna Capital H Ngara, Passando A Ser Zsoze Costa, E Tornando Se Amante De Kriska, A Sua Professora A Obsess O De Dominar Completamente O Novo Idioma Leva O A Viver Num Tresloucado Vaiv M Entre O Rio De Janeiro, Onde Vive Com A Sua Mulher Vanda, E Budapeste, Onde Passa A Viver Com Kriska Budapeste A Hist Ria De Um Escritor Dividido Entre Duas Cidades, Duas Mulheres, Dois Livros E Duas L Nguas, Uma Intrigante E Por Vezes Divertida Especula O Sobre Identidade E Autoria