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Jerusalem by Gonçalo M Tavares

Jerusalem (original 2005; edition 2009)

by Gonçalo M Tavares (Author), Anna Kushner (Translator)

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165872,171 (4.01)11
Authors:Gonçalo M Tavares (Author)
Other authors:Anna Kushner (Translator)
Info:Champaign: Dalkey Archive Press, c2009 [orig Port 2005 as 'Jerusalém']
Collections:Your library
Tags:PortLit C21st - Gonçalo Tavares 1970-, Tavares - Jerusalém [2005]

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Jerusalem by Goncalo M. Tavares (2005)


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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)

Uhm...Ich fühle mich zweischneidig lol

Disgrace it's just too terribly depressing. Phrases that come to mind after having finished the book: tremendously suffocating", "feeling of emptiness deep down inside", and on and on.

It's gives such an horrific view of human existence that I've finished it feeling as if someone had just punched me in the gut. Intentional (or not...)? Gonçalo, what were you thinking...?

I'm a man of two minds about his book... It didn't fully work for me but the parts that did. Oh my!

Let's put the jarring effects aside:

1 - The effectiveness of the philosophical pondering misses the mark due to the fact that the book is too focused on the thoughts and actions of the "abnormal man" and not on the "normal man" and therefore the applicability of the novel’s themes lacks some necessary universality of themes;

2 - The characters are extreme caricatures and not one of them mirrors the common modern man (aka normal or abnormal);

3 - It gives a very distant and cold perspective that makes it difficult to relate to.

Above-average effects:

1 - The writing is superb;

2 - Gonçalo is funny, intelligent and mind-numbing original. Enough said.

It was my first Gonçalo's book and it won't be the last. I'm curious to read this book in a language other than Portuguese. His prose poses some conundrums that I would like to see how they're dealt with in another language.

I think Gonçalo is the equivalent to reading crack cocaine and I'm damn well addicted. Fortunately I'm Portuguese and I can read all of them in the original... lol

NB: Along with this book, a friend of mine also recommended another one: "O homem ou é tonto ou é mulher", which means something like this: "Man is either a fool or a Woman". How much better can one get, ah?
" ( )
  antao | Dec 10, 2016 |
Amazing. One of the best books I read in 2015. ( )
  librarylord99 | Dec 30, 2015 |
In Jerusalem Dalkey Archive Press provides yet another interesting book, although Jerusalem has some serious problems. The main problem is an enviable one to have, but a problem nonetheless: the opening pages are incredibly good, as in very impressive on a technical, emotional, and intellectual level, but the book then fails to follow through or match these opening pages with an equally good segment later on. Late at night the character Mylia is kept awake by the pain of an injury that will soon kill her, and so she wanders the streets complementing her death. Such a topic can't help but bring to mind Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilyich, but Jerusalem's opening section outclasses The Death of Ivan Ilyich easily. While The Death of Ivan Ilyich only provided rather generic thoughts of a man forced to face death, thoughts that you had probably already contemplated before reading the story, Jerusalem provides some intriguing and character-specific thoughts about our mortality. Mylia's thoughts are not only more interesting, but also work far better at establishing Mylia's character compared to the thoughts of Ivan Ilyich. In these opening chapters Tavares makes even Mylia's thoughts about going to the bathroom an engaging part of the book.

Unfortunately, after the first section ends in a cliffhanger of sorts, the book leaves this sequence of events on the sidelines until near the 2/3rd mark. In the meantime we are introduced to a cast of other characters, but unfortunately none are as interesting as Mylia. We also learn of Mylia's past through sections that take place before the opening scene occurred, but I would have preferred learned this information by following Mylia and her thoughts rather than have much of it be communicated by Mylia's ex-husband or other characters. The recurring element to all of these characters is some sort of mental imbalance (with the exception of Hanna the prostitute). This includes both individuals who are being treated for mental illness and those doing the treating: individuals in both groups prove to be mentally unstable. In Jerusalem Tavares paints mental health institutions as places where the more socially powerful mentally imbalanced people (doctors with the obsessive need to control everything) are able to indulge their mental problems through control and abuse of weaker mentally imbalanced people (the patients). The book seems to be arguing against there being such a thing as a completely healthy mental state, and is also satirizing the idea that you can actually control life; such control is at best an illusion. While some of this is interesting, it comes nowhere near the heights of the opening section.

Eventually the story catches back up to the opening section, but in the process it rehashes much of the opening and thereby dilutes its effect. The ending of the book does not feel either particularly satisfying or particularly meaningful. Several characters are just left dangling at the end, their stories left unfinished. I'll admit though that perhaps the ending is better than I'm giving it credit for because I may well have missed some of the significance of the closing scenes. What exactly was the significance of the church at the end, and of religion/faith throughout the book? And what was the significance of Europa 2? There are probably answers to those questions that I just didn't catch. Nevertheless, I didn't find the ending very impressive. This was therefore a book that started out very well and went downhill for me. Maybe read the first 20 pages and pretend that it's a very intriguing short story that ends with a cliffhanger. Or read it all, if mental illness is a subject that appeals to you. Well, better to peak early than not at all. ( )
  BayardUS | Dec 10, 2014 |
This novel brings together several characters in one place for one event and then jumps back to show vignettes of each character's life, building up to what all brought them there. It is a well-written and structured work, but also very complex, and I admit that I don't totally "get" it. Themes of troubled relationships, mental illness, and the nature of evil. If you're interested in provocative fiction, you may like this. ( )
  Othemts | Oct 29, 2014 |
Ok, I admit I get really excited about a good book when I finish it (I'd probably give four stars to Richard Ford's latest now...it's great but not GREAT.) Well, this is another great one from Mr. Tavares and fully deserves the five stars. Sometimes I thought it was a little contrived with all these intersecting characters, but I think it works well in this case.

Different from Learning to Pray in the Age of Technique, this novel focuses on the troubling and often violent lives of about a dozen characters in an unnamed place, but it judging by the names and cultural references, it seems to be somewhere in eastern Europe. It's hard to explain how the novel works. It's more of a series of interconnected vignettes (and interconnected in both the past and present) that gradually gain meaning and power as you move through it. As I said, sometimes it feels a bit overplanned, but really, as the characters reveal themselves, the more this makes sense. The ending really shook me up, I gotta say, and will stick with me for a long time.

Off to a meeting, so short version: read it!

Edited to add that it probably takes place in, uh, Jerusalem. I'm pretty insightful. ( )
1 vote MichaelDC | Apr 3, 2013 |
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Ernst Spengler was alone in his attic apartment, getting ready to throw himself out the already-open window, when the telephone rang.
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