Tom Mayer's Reviews > Budapest

Budapest by Chico Buarque
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Aug 12, 07

Recommended for: those who like good translated fiction
Read in March, 2007

My friend Alex brought this book from a literary festival in South America. Apparently Chico Buarque is an enormous pop star in Brazil; it would be, he said, as if Justin Timberlake wrote a novel... and it turned out to be pretty damn good. BUDAPEST is the story of a ghost writer, a man who has written in the voice of politicians, of famous novelists. He even goes to the international ghostwriters conference where a novel he ghostwrote for a mysterious German businessman receives worldwide recognition. (The guy is sort of like Mark Moebius, actually.) The ghostwriter's consciousness begins to unravel after a trip to Budapest and then the story begin to get a little nuts. Buarque pursues themes of language, passing, accent, and Borgesian palimpsest (which sounds hopelessly snobby but is actually pretty fascinating.) I read the English edition, translated by Allison Entrekin (distant cousin to Grove Atlantic Editor in Chief Morgan Entrekin), and was deeply impressed.
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