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José Costa é um escritor anónimo pago para produzir artigos de jornal, discursos políticos, catas de amor, monografias e autobiografias romanceadas que outros assinam Um dia, regressando de um congresso de escritores anónimos em Istambul, é obrigado a fazer uma escala forçada em Budapeste Fascinado pela língua magiar, «segundo as máslínguas, a única língua que o Diabo respeita», José Costa retorna à capital húngara, passando a ser Zsoze Costa, e tornandose amante de Kriska, a sua professora A obsessão de dominar completamente o novo idioma levao a viver num tresloucado vaivém entre o Rio de Janeiro, onde vive com a sua mulher Vanda, e Budapeste, onde passa a viver com Kriska Budapeste é a história de um escritor dividido entre duas cidades, duas mulheres, dois livros e duas línguas, uma intrigante e por vezes divertida especulação sobre identidade e autoria 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! 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 of these anonymous individuals at a ghostwriters conference, Jose Costa/narrator observes, “The whole thing was beginning to remind me of an alcoholics anonymous meeting whose participants suffered not from alcoholism, but anonymity.” While on a trip to Hungary, Jose falls in love with the Magyar language, “the only tongue the devil respects.” The hallucinogenic quality of Jose’s world mirrors his immersion into Budapest The other worldly quality of his walks through the city and interactions with the city’s inhabitants marks the fuzzy boundaries between his world in Rio and this new city This juxtaposition of place is exemplified on the cover which emblazons the title over an iconic image of Rio Not everything moved the plot forward and the story dragged a bit in the middle, but otherwise I really enjoyed this novel! 4.25 stars. 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) José 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 semicolons 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 Portugueselanguage 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: João e Maria Construção Cálice