Gonçalo M. Tavares
Gonçalo M. Tavares was born in 1970. He spent his childhood in Aveiro in northern Portugal and he teaches Theory of Science at a university in Lisbon. Tavares has surprised his readers with the variety of books he has published since 2001 and has been awarded an impressive amount of literary prizes in a very short time.
In 2005 he won the Saramago Prize for young writers under 35. In his speech at the award ceremony, Saramago commented: Jerusalém is a great book, and truly deserves a place among the great works of Western literature. Gonçalo M. Tavares has no right to be writing so well at the age of 35. One feels like punching him!
Gonçalo M. Tavares has been awarded the Prêmio Portugal Telecom de Literatura em Língua Portuguesa 2007 for his novel Jerusalém.
From an impressive list of works published in swift succession which surprise readers by their philosophical mind quizzes, diffidently and ironically told events and broad stylistic variations, choice is made here of a number in which the main protagonist is a "Senhor": O Senhor Valéry embraces 25 short, playfully-philosophical stories about Mr. Valéry, who is short but tries hard to adapt to his surroundings, more or less successfully. With apparent childlike naivety he upsets the rules of logic and reason. For example, he jumps up and down in order to be as tall as his fellow men, declaring: I am as tall as tall people, only for a shorter while.
O Senhor Henri, a close relative of Mr. Valéry's, is a bit more egocentric and conceited and likes to dabble in paradoxical matters and linguistic games, besides being very partial to absinthe. Mister Henri says ... it's true that if a man mixes absinthe with reality it makes for a better reality ... yet it's also the case that if a man mixes absinthe with reality it makes for a worse reality ...
And other gentlemen, neighbours in a fictional writers´quarter, are introduced in book form such as Mr. Brecht, Mr. Juarroz, Mr. Calvino, Mr. Walser, Mr. Kraus and Mr.Eliot.
In a series which the author calls the "O Reino" he has published four novels which - this time in a less playful manner - address the topic of the essence of human existence. Just like Walser's dark notebooks, Gonçalo M. Tavares' Black Books continue to give their version of the world we live in, [...] of individual conscience, and the fragility of a human being in the play of existential forces, and the indifference or alienation of the individual. A máquina de Joseph Walser ("Joseph Walser's Machine"), following Um homem: Klaus Klump ("Klaus Klump: A Man"), is constructed as an attempt at apprehending the essence of humanity, drawing on material with the soul of a frighteningly rational world. (Agripina Carriço Vieira, Jornal de Letras)
In Jerusalém Ernst Spengler finds himself alone in the night of the 29th of May. He is about to throw himself out of the window. Suddenly the phone rings. Change of scene: The thirty-year-old Mylia is in her apartment and suffering great pain. She is terminally ill. She leaves the flat to go to a church. Ever since the war ended, Hinnerek Obst can not go out into the street without fear. For his eerie guise he is taken to be a murderer. He too is roaming the streets this night. Theodor Busbeck, doctor, historian and ex-husband of Mylia likewise leaves his apartment at 3 am in the morning in search of a prostitute. Mylia had one day turned up at his surgery and said I am schizophrenically mad. Would you like to cure me? The two had married. Later, however, Theodor left his wife in a psychiatric clinic. For years he had worked on developing a mathematical formula to foresee future crimes in the history of mankind.
In a clear and objective language, this book tells a strange and disconcerting story. It seems as though a secret force is leading the individual characters to their encounter in this particular night. A world coined by violence, fear, pain and insanity is evoked. The author succeeds in combining an exceedingly attention-grabbing story full of surprising contemplations on human nature with the diverse mechanisms of the exertion of power.
Jerusalém has recently been selected for the Portuguese edition of "1001 books to read before dying – a chronological guide to the most important novels of all times". The novel appears alongside works by Philip Roth and John Banville.
Jerusalem is a great book, and truly deserves a place among the great works of Western literature. Gonçalo M. Tavares has no right to be writing so well at the age of 35. One feels like punching him!
His remarkable 'black books' have brought me a degree of joy in their reading which renders them invaluable to me, the more so given the rarity of the experience. His 'Jerusalem' raises all the former good qualities to perfection: an enviable level of literary ability which draws the reader through the ferocity of a plot with a thread of temperate beauty.
With new literature we are in a kind of strange way within a world of death in parentheses. There is perhaps no other writer who communicates such a sentiment better than the author of "Jerusalém", Gonçalo M. Tavares. I came and I stayed, held alone within this space.
It is around the absence of happiness, in the void that threacherously fills with the stagnation brought by wealth or madness, where Gonçalo M. Tavares constructs his fabulous Jerusalém, a book at once evocative of the ghost of Kafka, German expressionist cinema, and the canvases of Anselm Kiefer...
In the last novel of four in his "O Reino" series, Aprender a rezar na Era da Técnica ("Learning to Pray in the Age of Technology"), Tavares talks about "the position in the world of Lenz Buchmann", as indicated in the book's subtitle. The protagonist is a cold and calculating character who feels destined to dominate the world from a position of superiority. In an environment which evokes the political climate of central Europe between the wars, Lenz Buchmann begins his career as a surgeon. In his professional life, he unflinchingly makes decisions between life and death, without showing a moment of compassion for his patients, for their pain. Lenz becomes a prestigious surgeon, but nonetheless feels that the human body is a small field of action and he believes himself to be destined for works on a greater scale. He dedicates himself to the politics of his city, his country. Soon, he is recognised as one of the most important figures of his country. His party manages to win the elections to preside over the country, and Buchmann is the right-hand man to the president, while willing to take over the post of the number one at the first opportunity that presents itself. At that very moment, he is diagnosed with a brain tumour and becomes transformed from a main player into a patient, a victim.
With an abrupt and dry language, the author describes the character and his ideology. The figure of evil, incarnate through Lenz Buchmann, is subject to detailed scrutiny. The shadow of a fascist Buchmann troubles the reader and making us fear the worst, until the protagonist, who believes himself to be invincible as a superior man, falls into the web of illness and has to learn to live, to survive without giving orders, but giving thanks. As with his previous novel, Jerusalém, power relations, illness and death are essential elements in this novel, which keep the reader rapt from beginning to end.
The literature of Gonçalo M. Tavares is radical, and does not allow us to remain indifferent. On the contrary, it makes us uncomfortable and hurt. Tavares is a master in the art of shocking the reader.
José Castello, Ípsilon, 7.12.2007
His writing is surreal, fun, poetic, profound, dramatic, a discourse of shock, a small bomb which pushes past the usual boundaries, the standard patterns.
One day, when the literary history of the early years of this century in Portugal comes to be written, the work of Gonçalo M. Tavares will assume an eminent position…
José Mário Silva, Diário de Notícias
"The 36 years old Lisbon writer, Gonçalo M. Tavares, is the hot tip to stand alongside José Saramago in the immediate future.".
Estado de São Paulo, Brazil
"One of the most creative contemporary Portuguese writers."
Moacyr Scliar, Brazilian writer, VEJA, Brazil
"Gonçalo M. Tavares has displayed surprising and measureless skill. This writer will certainly be spoken of by the Swedish committee in a few years' time.
"He's a born genius!"
"fabulous graphic-literary invention"
Franco Marcoaldi, LA REPUBLICA, Italy
Irony and talent, an unbelievable author.
COURRIER INTERNATIONAL, France
Thanks to the logic and the drawings, Mister Valéry always finds a solution.
Jacques Roubaud, preface to the French edition
Gonçalo M. Tavares has created a marvellous moveable neighbourhood. His neighbourhood, where /Mr Brecht / and company live, eat and drink, is an astonishing piece of originality.
Enrique Vila-Matas, EL PAÍS
Edições em cerca de vinte países