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Budapest

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3.65  ·  Rating details ·  3,288 ratings  ·  164 reviews
Perhaps Brazil’s most influential and beloved composer and musician, Chico Buarque is also a highly praised poet, playwright, and novelist. In Budapest, Buarque introduces the story of a ghostwriter who immerses himself in the Hungarian language. José Costa lives in Rio de Janeiro. Fated to remain in the shadows of his illustrious clients, Costa breaks free of this fate an ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published September 8th 2005 by Grove Press (first published 2003)
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3.65  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,288 ratings  ·  164 reviews


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Luís C.
Aug 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brazil, leya, 100-200
One of Jose Costa's dogs was named John. It was a labrador that he had brought home very small. The girls were delighted with this species of big white rat with sea lion's eyes....
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 obviou
...more
Georgia
Jun 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: David Sasaki
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
...more
Antonio
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Antonio by: Vicente
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 recogn
...more
Lorenzo Berardi
Mar 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Question:
What an Italian reading the English translation of a book written in Portuguese and by a Brazilian author pretending to be the ghost writer of a German guy and dedicated to the study of the Hungarian language is up to?

Answer:
Writing a few impressions on "Budapest" by Chico Buarque.

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
...more
Adam
Jun 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
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," José Costa. As a "ghost writer," this native of São Paulo is employed by an agency to namele ...more
Irena
Nov 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lovely South-American escapism into (pause for the build up ... ...) Hungary. If you liked this, check out Bolaño.
Jim Elkins
Oct 09, 2012 added it
Shelves: brazilian
Not Quite Literature

By 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
...more
Víctor
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 Kósta, tried to learn the only language that the devil respects, Hungarian.

"It should be against th
...more
Rhomboid Goatcabin
Nov 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Not unlike Hesse's Steppenwolf or some of Murakami's early works, Budapest begins in an unassuming though intriguing way and, subtly and hardly noticeably, progresses into confusion, otherworldliness and delirium. A baffling short novel of language and identity. Disorienting, exhilerating and terrifying!
James Ward
Dec 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an easy, intelligent story, written in the first person. It’s only 183 pages long, printed in a reasonably large font, so probably more of a novella than a novel. Anyway, it didn’t outstay its welcome. Any longer, and it might have done.

The narrator is a ghost-writer. On his way back from a conference in Istanbul, he’s forced to make a stop-off in Budapest. After wards, he goes back to Brazil, and we learn of his relationship with Vanda, whom he marries, and with whom he has a son. But h
...more
Twodogs333
Jul 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
Hmm, how do I describe this book?

I decided that I would take on the challenge of reading the World Cup of Literature presented by Three Percent, because I love soccer, I love books and hey, why not?

This was book number one hailing from Brazil. It is short, I'd even call it a novella and the translation loses nothing. The issue at hand is the book is about nothing really and the narrator is a total d-bag. I take this quote from Pseudo-intellectual reviews: "http://pseudointellectualreviews.word
...more
David Sasaki
Jul 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
There is an essay I plan to write in guise of book review which touches on ghostwriting, mili vanilli, hip-hop, Indian letter writing, fake steve jobs, and the alleged blog of a Caribbean head of state. If I never get to that essay, which is likely, then yes, I liked this book and I recommend it. If you read only the first half and become skeptical of recommendation, you should read on.
Jill
Feb 21, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book, but not sure why. I certainly felt compelled to keep reading it, even though it was kind of weird; very lofty with many themes and a slightly ambiguous plot. Hmmmm.
J.L.   Sutton
Jun 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Chico Buarque’s Budapest engages the senses and immerses the reader in the protagonist ghost writer’s surreal world. Buarque is perhaps better known as a composer and musician (in addition to being a playwright, poet and novelist). These talents are on full display here. The musicality of language and storytelling is intertwined in this tale of ghostwriter Jose Costa. His imposed anonymity is explored in terms of relationships to others as well as to his mental state. During a strange conference ...more
Zuzka
Jul 31, 2017 rated it did not like it
Very unimpressed. I like a well written book, language artistry before plot. This book has neither a plot, nor sentences that would get to me, apart from "Hungarian is the devil's language".
As a Hungarian native, I was confused by the author's knowledge of the language and grammar. Then I found out he never set foot in Budapest and knows nothing about the language. He basically bastardized Hungarian for a story. Had he known it, he would know how much a sentence in Hungarian can express, because
...more
Szanacska
Jun 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Reading it as a Hungarian it was very interesting and sometimes very disappointing as well. The main character of the book is a fu@#$/g as¥₩%le. But that's ok... But writing Tokay wine instead of Tokaji is NOT ok! ...and where is this "pumpkin pie" coming from????? I am Hungarian and never heard of it. I mean probably people make pumpkin pies but it's not a traditional and popular and famous Hungarian "pie". Anyway...the book is ok, but should have done more research before....
Wewib
Mar 18, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Frankly, I did not enjoy reading this book. The way it explores languages is very interesting, but the main character and narrator is so annoying I can't really connect with his story. He is selfcentred in the extreme, irresponsible and bordering on sexist - I simply can't stand him! However, the last three pages of this book are great, and almost makes it worth reading.
Francis Medeiros
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book. I am not sure I like Chico Buarque's writing style, but he has wit, and the book is quite entertaining.
Shatterlings
Maybe this was too clever for me but I found the steam of consciousness style tiring, it’s not really clear what’s real and what isn’t, is the narrator insane ? It just made no sense.
Agnes
Nov 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brazil, realism
Read this while traveling. Sometimes you get tired of physically seeing new things and new people because it's kind of exhausting. This book helps to clear your mind and open your imagination to an unknown land with its unknown people. This is really good Chico/Zsoze Kósta.
M.
Apr 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
To learn a foreign language, especially one so different from English as Hungarian, takes a certain leap of faith, a willingness to participate in a mode of expression that appears to have been rearranged and, in many cases, dissected and reassembled. It takes a similar leap of faith to enjoy Buarque’s novel, in which stories unpack themselves like Chinese boxes, and realities and narratives are constantly shape-shifting, challenging and undermining whatever presumptions the reader has already a ...more
Vicky
Sep 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Melinda, maybe; Davis, definitely
Recommended to Vicky by: same translator of Clarice Lispector's book, it's in Bp, it's by Grove Press
José Costa is a successful ghostwriter, married to a newscaster, has a son, lives in Rio de Janeiro, but while on a business trip somewhere, he finds himself in Budapest after a bomb threat on his plane leads to a security delay thing. From there, he checks into a hotel, wanders around, and one thing leads to another which reminds me of Haruki Murakami's protagonists, how José is taken advantage of by a young couple but he goes along with it, doesn't seem to mind even when they follow him back t ...more
Carl R.
Chico Buarque appears to be one of those renaissance men of the arts--a singer, composer, songwriter, poet, playwright, and novelist. Budapest is, a novel about identity, communication, creation, confusion, and love. I’m perhaps meant to be visiting Hungary soon, since I liked Aruthur Phillips’ Prague (See my 7/6/07 blog Prague--a City in Hungary?), which despite the title, actually took place in Budapest. At any rate, the main character of Budapest, Jos Costa, is a best-selling ghost writer. T ...more
Maria
Dec 29, 2011 rated it did not like it
I really wanted to love this book. It's about a Brazilian ghost writer who falls in love with the Hungarian language. Hungarian was my first language and I speak it fluently, though not as well as a native speaker. It's a difficult language, and I am always fascinated by people who actually choose to learn it. But Jose Costa left his wife and son due to his obsession, and used his knowledge of the language to hurt people. He wasn't a nice person, he made some very bad choices, and I felt disappo ...more
Michael
Oct 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a fascinating book about writing and celebrity. The main character, Jose Costa is earning a large salary as a partner in a company that ghost writes for famous people, including authors and polictians. Jose is the best writer in the company. He has successful wife, who on appearances is more successful than he, as a newscaster, living a wealthy life near Copacabana beach. His world is turned upside down though when his plane is diverted to Budapest and he has to spend a restless night t ...more
Timba
Nov 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pt-reading, brasil
It was my first reading in Portuguese and not an easy one. There was a lot of confusion but the book was engaging enough to finish it. It took me some time to go through it, mostly because of the lack of time or other readings. I've read the second part of the book in just two days. Probably I've lost many cultural or language references, but still enjoyed the reading.

The story follows the Portuguese ghostwriter who immerse himself in foreign language, traveling between Rio de Janeiro and Budap
...more
Tom Mayer
Aug 08, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those who like good translated fiction
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 recog ...more
David
Aug 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first became familiar with Chico Buarque through his music; he's something of a Bossanova legend in Brazil who has authoured several books, plays, and screenplays. "Budapest" is a meditation on penetrating languages and culture as "other" filled with the insights and remarks of one who has walked thousands of miles through foreign cities.
A favorite passage on the cost of work P110: "So much devotion to my craft, writing and rewriting, correcting and polishing texts, pampering every word I put
...more
Avital
Jul 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brazilian
An imaginative, brilliant book by a renascence man: a composer, poet, author, singer, football fan, an ageless beautiful male, Chico Buarque.
Jose, a ghost writer, lives in the schizophrenia of his profession: seeing his texts and books rise while he remains in the shadow. He learns to write prose on the bodies of Brazilian women. When he arrives in Budapest for a ghost writer conference, his marriage already in crisis, he starts writing verse on the body of his new lover. He used to be his wife
...more
Femke
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I don’t know what to think of this book... in a way the story and the style it was written in, was fascinating. Yet sometimes the choice of words felt really artificial and the overall storyline was a bit odd, at times even confusing.

The main character works as a ghost writer in Brazil. Due to some airline trouble, he spends a night in Budapest and falls utterly in love with the language. He decides to return to Hungary and his wife takes a plane to London. He then devotes himself completely to
...more
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Francisco Buarque de Hollanda is popularly known as Chico Buarque, is a singer, guitarist, composer, dramatist, writer and poet. He is best known for his music, which often includes social, economic and cultural commentary on Brazil and Rio de Janeiro in particular.

Son of the academic Sérgio Buarque de Hollanda, Buarque lived in several locations throughout his childhood, though mostly in Rio de J
...more
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“(Hungarian...) the only tongue the devil respects.” 14 likes
“De tanto me devotar ao meu ofício, escrevendo e reescrevendo, corrigindo e depurando textos, mimando cada palavra que punha no papel, não me sobravam boas palavras para ela.” 6 likes
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