A review Tomás Eloy Martínez' The Tango Singer
Tomás Eloy Martínez, who was shortlisted for last year's inaugural International Man Booker Prize, was born in Argentina in 1934. His writing is satisfyingly sharp and eccentric. He casts Eva Perón as one of those women "whose lives were so excessive that, like the inconvenient facts of history, they were left without a real place of their own. Only in novels could they find the place they belonged, as always happens in Argentina to people who have the arrogance to exist too much."
But The Tango Singer is much more than a card-sharp's showy sleight of hand. Ultimately it's a testament to man's desire to transcend death. No one does it more eloquently than the tango singer himself. Martel's haunting performances, sung in seemingly unconnected locations all over Buenos Aires, follow the contours of a map. Read the map and the city's shameful past is revealed.
Jorge Luis Borges once wrote that a man fills the space around him with images of mountains, stars, kingdoms and people, only to discover shortly before his death that "the patient labyrinth of lines traces the image of his own face". Borges would have adored the tango singer's audacious map. And, given that Borges often reviewed books which were never written and profiled writers who never existed, I suspect he would have loved the fact that not only is this glittering homage to him a work of fiction, but it concludes with the words: "all the characters in this novel are imaginary, even those who seem real."
You can find the full review here
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