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Joseph Walser's Machine (Portuguese Literature)

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Joseph Walser's Machine (Portuguese Literature) Cover

 

Staff Pick

The third book of Gonçalo Tavares's acclaimed Kingdom series (aka the "Black Books") to appear in English translation (after Jerusalem and Learning to Pray in the Age of Technique), Joseph Walser's Machine explores the monotonous, ordered life of its eponymous protagonist, a factory machinist in an unnamed city on the cusp of war. Leading a disciplined and predictable existence, Walser's life consists almost entirely of routine: the long hours at the factory in front of the same machine, an unremarkable marriage to his wife, Margha, the weekly dice games with coworkers, and most notably, acquiring, measuring, and cataloging the small pieces of metal that make up his prized collection and sole hobby. As a military occupation and the ensuing bombardments begin, Walser's invariable life is disrupted by a workplace accident, an act of insurrection, and later, a betrayal that culminates in a frightful confrontation.

Tavares's prose is often stark and detached, yet it always remains punctuated by a reflective undercurrent. The Portuguese novelist is a skilled storyteller, although Joseph Walser's Machine lacks some of the vehemence found in Jerusalem and Technique. The books that comprise the Kingdom series share many existential themes, namely the ways in which an individual, despite attempts to the contrary, often finds himself at the whim of an unforgiving world.

The final volume of the Kingdom series, Klaus Klump: A Man, is apparently set for future publication by Dalkey Archive. Presumably, the 10 books that make up Tavares's Neighborhood series (O Senhor Valéry, O Senhor CalvinoO Senhor Brecht, O Senhor Breton, et al.) will also find their way into wide-release translation (it appears Texas Tech University has secured the rights to at least half of these 10 titles). The Neighborhood series ("O Bairro") books seem to be characterized by their playful and philosophical nature, an obvious departure from the cruelty, violence, and indifference that mark the Kingdom titles. The prolific Gonçalo Tavares, somewhat unbelievably for a writer of his relative youth, has also composed works of drama, poetry, and short fiction. As more of his works make their way into translation, English audiences may come to recognize Tavares, as much of the international community seemingly already has, as one of the finest and most accomplished Lusophone authors working today.

Nonetheless, there are still some remnants of happiness to be found, growing. A woman is selling flowers, a dog is sniffing around with his snout in the air, as if the birds or the clouds were giving off a strong scent. But the sky doesn't really have a scent, except after a heavy rainfall; the sky smells like water for three hours afterward, and there's no smell gentler than this on days with no rain. The city breathes. It speaks of distant harvests, and crops stream into the city from every direction: they grow on trees, then invade the domain of mankind. Nature pays no attention to the conspiracy of machines, the frenzied ecstasy of helicopter rotors so eager to show off their deadly capabilities.

Recommended by Jeremy, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Continuing Tavares’s award-winning “Kingdom” series (begun in Jerusalem, winner of the Saramago Prize), Joseph Walser’s Machine recounts a life of bizarre routines and patterns. Routine humiliation at a factory; routine maintenance of the world’s most esoteric collection; and the most important routine of all: the operation of a mysterious machine on a factory floor. Yet all of Joseph Walser’s routines are violently disrupted when his city is occupied by an invading army, leaving him faced with political intrigues, marital discord, and finally, one last, catastrophic confrontation with his beloved machine.

Synopsis:

“Tavares has no right to be writing so well at the age of 35. One feels like punching him!”—José Saramago

Synopsis:

Continuing Tavares’s award-winning “Kingdom” series (begun in Jerusalem, winner of the Saramago Prize), Joseph Walser’s Machine recounts a life of bizarre routines and patterns. Routine humiliation at a factory; routine maintenance of the world’s most esoteric collection; and the most important routine of all: the operation of a mysterious machine on a factory floor. Yet all of Joseph Walser’s routines are violently disrupted when his city is occupied by an invading army, leaving him faced with political intrigues, marital discord, and finally, one last, catastrophic confrontation with his beloved machine.

About the Author

Gonçalo M. Tavares was born in 1970. He has published numerous books since 2001 and has been awarded an impressive number of literary prizes in a very short time, including the Saramago Prize in 2005.Rhett McNeil has translated work by Machado de Assis, António Lobo Antunes, and Gonçalo M. Tavares.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781564786777
Author:
Tavares, Goncalo M.
Publisher:
Dalkey Archive Press
Author:
Emmanuel, Fran
Author:
McNeil, Rhett
Author:
Riley, Brendan
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Series:
Portuguese Literature Series
Publication Date:
20120331
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
160
Dimensions:
8 x 5.5 in

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Joseph Walser's Machine (Portuguese Literature) New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$13.95 In Stock
Product details 160 pages Dalkey Archive Press - English 9781564786777 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

The third book of Gonçalo Tavares's acclaimed Kingdom series (aka the "Black Books") to appear in English translation (after Jerusalem and Learning to Pray in the Age of Technique), Joseph Walser's Machine explores the monotonous, ordered life of its eponymous protagonist, a factory machinist in an unnamed city on the cusp of war. Leading a disciplined and predictable existence, Walser's life consists almost entirely of routine: the long hours at the factory in front of the same machine, an unremarkable marriage to his wife, Margha, the weekly dice games with coworkers, and most notably, acquiring, measuring, and cataloging the small pieces of metal that make up his prized collection and sole hobby. As a military occupation and the ensuing bombardments begin, Walser's invariable life is disrupted by a workplace accident, an act of insurrection, and later, a betrayal that culminates in a frightful confrontation.

Tavares's prose is often stark and detached, yet it always remains punctuated by a reflective undercurrent. The Portuguese novelist is a skilled storyteller, although Joseph Walser's Machine lacks some of the vehemence found in Jerusalem and Technique. The books that comprise the Kingdom series share many existential themes, namely the ways in which an individual, despite attempts to the contrary, often finds himself at the whim of an unforgiving world.

The final volume of the Kingdom series, Klaus Klump: A Man, is apparently set for future publication by Dalkey Archive. Presumably, the 10 books that make up Tavares's Neighborhood series (O Senhor Valéry, O Senhor CalvinoO Senhor Brecht, O Senhor Breton, et al.) will also find their way into wide-release translation (it appears Texas Tech University has secured the rights to at least half of these 10 titles). The Neighborhood series ("O Bairro") books seem to be characterized by their playful and philosophical nature, an obvious departure from the cruelty, violence, and indifference that mark the Kingdom titles. The prolific Gonçalo Tavares, somewhat unbelievably for a writer of his relative youth, has also composed works of drama, poetry, and short fiction. As more of his works make their way into translation, English audiences may come to recognize Tavares, as much of the international community seemingly already has, as one of the finest and most accomplished Lusophone authors working today.

Nonetheless, there are still some remnants of happiness to be found, growing. A woman is selling flowers, a dog is sniffing around with his snout in the air, as if the birds or the clouds were giving off a strong scent. But the sky doesn't really have a scent, except after a heavy rainfall; the sky smells like water for three hours afterward, and there's no smell gentler than this on days with no rain. The city breathes. It speaks of distant harvests, and crops stream into the city from every direction: they grow on trees, then invade the domain of mankind. Nature pays no attention to the conspiracy of machines, the frenzied ecstasy of helicopter rotors so eager to show off their deadly capabilities.

"Synopsis" by , “Tavares has no right to be writing so well at the age of 35. One feels like punching him!”—José Saramago
"Synopsis" by , Continuing Tavares’s award-winning “Kingdom” series (begun in Jerusalem, winner of the Saramago Prize), Joseph Walser’s Machine recounts a life of bizarre routines and patterns. Routine humiliation at a factory; routine maintenance of the world’s most esoteric collection; and the most important routine of all: the operation of a mysterious machine on a factory floor. Yet all of Joseph Walser’s routines are violently disrupted when his city is occupied by an invading army, leaving him faced with political intrigues, marital discord, and finally, one last, catastrophic confrontation with his beloved machine.
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