Lost in the Stacks: Portuguese authors

Printer-friendly version

Lost in the stacks Welcome to the eigth entry of our blog series 'Lost in the Stacks' - with recommendations by Dublin City Libraries staff exploring our first-rate catalogue and perhaps nudging you towards making an inspired selection.

This entry comes from one of our new Librarians, Sofia, and she is from Portugal so naturally enough focuses on Portugese authors available to borrow via our catalogue at Dublin City Libraries.

If you'd like to borrow any of the books discussed below, simply click on the book cover or title to be taken to the reserves page, where you'll need your library card and PIN to request the book.

1. The Piano Cemetery by Jose Luis Peixoto

PianoCemetary

The Lázaro family are carpenters who would rather be piano-makers. In the dusty back room of their carpentry shop in Lisbon is the 'piano cemetery', filled with broken-down pianos that provide the spare parts needed for repairing and rebuilding instruments all over the city. It is a mysterious and magical place, a place of solace, a dreaming place and, above all, a trysting place for lovers. Peixoto weaves the tragic true story of the marathon-runner, Francisco Lázaro, into a rich narrative of love, betrayal, domestic happiness and dashed hopes.


2. Learning to pray in the age of technique Lenz Buchmann's position in the world by Goncalo M. Tavares

Learningtopray
In a city not quite of any particular era, a distant and calculating man named Lenz Buchmann works as a surgeon, treating his patients as little more than equations to be solved: life and death no more than results to be worked through without the least compassion. Soon, however, Buchmann's ambition is no longer content with medicine, and he finds himself rising through the ranks of his country's ruling party . . . until a diagnosis transforms this likely future president from a leading player into just another victim. In language that is at once precise, clinical, and oddly childlike, Gonc¸alo M. Tavares—the Portuguese novelist hailed by Jose´ Saramago as the greatest of his generation—here brings us another chilling investigation into the limits of human experience, mapping the creation and then disintegration of a man we might call “evil,” and showing us how he must learn to adapt in a world he can no longer dominate.

 

3. Raised from the Ground by José Saramago

Raisedfromtheground
This early work is deeply personal and Saramago's most autobiographical: following the changing fortunes of the Mau-Tempo family – poor, landless peasants not unlike the author’s own grandparents. Saramago charts the family's lives in Alentjo, southern Portugal, as national and international events rumble on in the background – the coming of the republic in Portugal, the First and Second World Wars, and an attempt on the dictator Salazar's life. Yet, nothing really impinges on the farm labourers' lives until the first stirrings of communism.
As full of love as it is of pain it is a vivid and moving tribute to the men and women am Saramago lived among as a child.

 

4. The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa

BookofDisquiet
Fernando Pessoa was many writers in one. He attributed his prolific writings to a wide range of alternate selves, each of which had a distinct biography, ideology, and horoscope. When he died in 1935, Pessoa left behind a trunk filled with unfinished and unpublished writings, among which were the remarkable pages that make up his posthumous masterpiece, The Book of Disquiet, an astonishing work that, in George Steiner's words, "gives to Lisbon the haunting spell of Joyce's Dublin or Kafka's Prague."
 
Published for the first time some fifty years after his death, this unique collection of short, aphoristic paragraphs comprises the "autobiography" of Bernardo Soares, one of Pessoa's alternate selves. Part intimate diary, part prose poetry, part descriptive narrative, captivatingly translated by Richard Zenith, The Book of Disquiet is one of the greatest works of the twentieth century.

 

5. Equator by Miguel Sousa Tavares

Equator
It is Lisbon in the year 1905 and our hero, Luis Bernardo Valenca, a 37-year-old bachelor and owner of a small shipping business, is revelling in the luxury of Lisbon's high society. Intellectually curious, he writes about politics in his spare time, believing that Portugal's vast empire is having a civilising effect on the far-off lands it has colonised. But his life is turned upside down when King Dom Carlos asks him to become governor of Portugal's smallest colony, the tiny island of São Tomé e Principe, stuck out in the Atlantic off the coast of equatorial West Africa, whose economy rests almost entirely on its cocoa plantations. However, the English believe that slavery still exists illegally in São Tomé and intend to send a diplomatic envoy to check it out. (Of course the English, with their rival cocoa plantations in Africa, have their own reasons for trying to prevent the export of cocoa from Sao Tome.) As a gentleman used to a softer urban life, Luis Bernardo is ill-prepared for the challenges of plantation life, and he is shocked by the conditions under which the Angolan workers labour - although he is more than willing to engage romantically with the wife of the English consul, one of several candidates for his attentions.




 

Add new comment

Feedback