Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Three top books on Argentina

At the Guardian, Pushpinder Khaneka named three of the best books on Argentina. One title on the list:
The Tango Singer by Tomás Eloy Martínez

Bruno Cadogan, a doctoral student in New York, is having trouble with his dissertation on Jorge Luis Borges’s essays on the tango. He decides to travel to Buenos Aires in search of inspiration and a disabled, haemophiliac tango singer named Julio Martel – rumoured to be even better than the legendary Carlos Gardel.

Cadogan arrives in the Argentinian capital in 2001, in the midst of financial meltdown and political instability. He traverses Buenos Aires in pursuit of the elusive singer, who makes unscheduled appearances in seemingly random locations across the city. But as he begins to unravel the mystery of Martel’s life, he learns that the tango singer’s performances map the city’s murky past.

Cadogan also develops an obsession with the “The Aleph” – the imaginary point in space that contains the entire universe – as described in a Borges short story.

In this vibrant and passionate novel, Tomás Eloy Martínez marries fact with fiction to reveal unsavoury events – human trafficking, torture and killings – in the history of “a city where unpunished crimes abound”. But it’s also an homage to both Buenos Aires and Borges.

Martínez, one of Argentina’s best-known journalists and authors, was forced into exile in the 1970s. He went to Venezuela, later moving to the US, and didn’t return to live in Argentina until 2006. He died in 2010.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue