My German Brother

Chico Buarque, trans. from the Portuguese by Alison Entrekin. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25 (208p) ISBN 978-0-374-16120-0
Brazilian writer-musician Buarque’s wistful, bawdy account of the search for his German half-brother is based on the author’s life, according to an author’s note. In early-1960s São Paulo, teenager Ciccio de Hollander discovers hidden in an old book a 1931 letter revealing that his father left an illegitimate child behind in prewar Berlin. Enthralled, he imagines his half-brother while trying to track him down and seducing the ex-girlfriends of his full brother, Domingos. During Brazil’s 1968 government crackdown, police confiscate all documents relevant to the half-brother. Ciccio also loses contact with both Domingos and his best friend Thelonious; distraught families suspect the young men have died in police custody. In 2013, Ciccio travels to Germany for one last try at locating his half-brother. The narrative’s liveliest moments have nothing to do with the search: teenagers Ciccio and Thelonious stealing a car; adult Ciccio imagining great authors attending his father’s funeral; an unliterary policeman named Jorge Borges rifling through Ciccio’s father’s library. Buarque’s novel about freedom and repression in Germany and Brazil is both funny and disturbing. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/05/2018
Release date: 04/17/2018
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-1-250-21489-8
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