‘O Irmão Alemão’ (‘My German Brother’) by Chico Buarque

My rating: 2 stars

To write O Irmão Alemão, My German Brother in the English translation, the Brazilian author and singer-songwriter Chico Buarque drew inspiration from his family history. When he was 22 years old, Buarque discovered that his father had had a son while living in Germany. Nevertheless, the story in this book is mostly fictional. The premise is full of potential – the narrator wants to discover what happened to his German brother. Unfortunately, the execution is nothing but disappointing, since the characters don’t feel real and the writing style is not absorbing.

Francisco de Hollander, the narrator of the book, once found in one of his father’s books a letter from a German woman, Anne Ernst, dated from December 1931. His father had lived in Berlin between 1929 and 1930, before he got married, and in the past Francisco had also overheard a conversation about him having another son in Germany. He finally had confirmation of the existence of this brother when Udo, a friend of his friend Thelonious, translated for him the letter he had unearthed.

Afterwards he became fixated with discovering what had happened to his German brother. While looking for clues, he came up with possible theories for various events. Throughout the book, there is a mix of reality and conjecture, which are occasionally so blend in with one another that it’s difficult to discern which is which. Continue reading

Book Haul – March 2021

March felt like a good month to get more books, though since last year I’ve been trying to read all of the books that I own before buying new ones. This haul consists of both novels and short story collections, almost all of them written by women. Some have been on my wish list for ages, others are more recent discoveries.

 

Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

Inspired by Johannes Vermeer’s famous painting, Girl with a Pearl Earring tells the story of Griet, a servant girl who becomes the student and muse of the Dutch painter. Scandal erupts when he gives her his wife’s pearl earrings to wear for a portrait. I’ve been meaning to read this historical fiction novel for ages and hopefully won’t be disappointed.

 

Salt Slow by Julia Armfield

Julia Armfield’s debut collection of short stories is supposedly filled with lyrical prose and dark humour. How could I resist buying it? Various feelings are explored in these tales: isolation, obsession, love and revenge. Continue reading

Books in Portuguese to Read this Year

Last year, UNESCO proclaimed the 5th of May as the World Portuguese Language Day. Although Portuguese is my mother tongue, I’ve recently been reading more books originally written in English than in Portuguese. There are some books written by lusophone authors that I definitely want to read until the end of the year, however. The list features writers from Portugal, Brazil and Angola.

 

Lillias Fraser by Hélia Correia

Hélia Correia won the Camões Prize (a literary career prize for authors who write in Portuguese) in 2015. Lillias Fraser is a historical fiction book about a Scottish girl who was part of a clan that lost the battle of Culloden against the English. She then ran away and moved to Portugal.

 

O Irmão Alemão (My German Brother) by Chico Buarque

The Brazilian author Chico Buarque is the latest winner of the Camões Prize. This book is a combination of fiction and reality. When he was 22 years old, Buarque discovered that he had a brother in Germany, so he decided to write a book about that. Continue reading