An Interview with the Tango Singer

Maya Jaggi interviews Tomás Eloy Martínez, whose The Tango Singer, was one my own best reads last year.

…the novel aims to “draw a map of the city of Buenos Aires that can’t be seen, an urban topography of the unknown”, though the labyrinth he depicts is one in time, not space. “A large part of Argentinian history concludes with an act of violence,” he says in London. “The dictatorship ended with a war – the Malvinas – with 30,000 desaparecidos in the concentration camps. All stories are contaminated with violence.”

He had been asked to write a factual book about the capital, but it came to him as a novel, in a dream. Set in late 2001, the story unfolds amid Argentina’s financial crash, with spiralling inflation, a bizarre succession of five presidents within 15 days, and 30 people killed in rioting in Buenos Aires. Bruno, who leaves Manhattan just before September 11, finds Argentina’s meltdown more urgent and astonishing than the terrorist strike on the twin towers. For Martínez, too, who was visiting as “the country was on the verge of collapse”, it was a “more absorbing reality that a whole country was disappearing from the map. Why must what happens in the US be more important than the terrible things that happen in Buenos Aires or Baghdad?”

Related links:

Review of Santa Evita by Tomas Eloy Martinez
Review of The Peron Novel by Tomas Eloy Martinez
A review of The Tango Singer (from Independent)

Link via Literary Saloon

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