Over at Golden Rule Jones, Sam brings my attention to the Portuguese writer Gonçalo M. Tavares who hit Sam's radar "because of a short book of essays he wrote on Walser". (Robert Walser that is.)

Sam gives us a nice quote from the web site of his literary agency, Dr. Ray-Güde Mertin:

Gonçalo M. Tavares was born in 1970. He spent his childhood in Aveiro in northern Portugal and studied Physics, Sport and Art. He teaches Theory of Science at a university in Lisbon. Tavares has surprised his readers with the variety of books he has published since 2001 and has been awarded an impressive amount of literary prizes in a very short time. In 2005 he won the Saramago Prize for young writers under 35. In his speech at the award ceremony, Saramago commented: “Jerusalém is a great book, and truly deserves a place among the great works of Western literature. Gonçalo M. Tavares has no right to be writing so well at the age of 35. One feels like punching him!”

Readers Comments

  1. Apparently four little books of his have been translated into English by transbooks of New Delhi but are available only in India and Portugal.... Happy New Year, p

  2. Gonçalo M. Tavares hasn't wrote any book on Robert Walser. There must be some misunderstanding with his second novel title - A Máquina de Joseph Walser - Joseph Walser's Machine. Being Joseph Walser a character, not related to Robert Walser.

  3. Paul, great catch! I believe this is exactly the series I'm talking about, although the Walser title is not included:

    Pedro, I'll defer to your superior command of Portuguese (mine is nonexistent), but here is the book I'm talking about, listed on the publisher's page:

    And here is the place I first saw it mentioned:

    I may be mistaken that this is a "short book of essays" on Walser - just as likely it's a book that merely takes Walser as its inspiration - but it does appear to be a different book than "A Máquina de Joseph Walser."

    Ah, the joys and frustrations of pursuing literature in languages other than one's own ...


  4. I think Paul is right that only 4 books have been translated into English the rest are still in Portuguese! It is weird that these are only available from India - I think they were at the Frankfurt Book Fair also - I have sent a request to - hopefully they can mail them to me in the UK since I am intrigued by an excerpt from Mister Brecht at:
    If any of you know of any US or UK publishers please post.. It's not on Amazon!!

  5. Hi everyone,

    I came across your posts while surfing the Internet. Great blog. I translated Gonçalo's books mentioned above into English and am currently working on the next 2 titles of the series which will be published this year, as will 'Jerusalem', his best known work in Portuguese. Mister Calvino was published in summer 2007. The titles we have published so far can be viewed on (with short excerpts). We are a very small independent publisher based in New Delhi. Like you, I found Gonçalo's "Neighbourhood" series to be delightful and felt it was important to let English speaking readers get a glimpse of his wonderfully whimsical world!

    WMBushnell: your email never reached us, please contact me at or and we will figure out a way to get the books to you. One of the forthcoming "Neighbourhood" titles is "Mister Walser", the book Sam Jones saw on the Caminho website. It should be out by May.


    Roopanjali Roy

  6. Sam Jones,

    The book you mentioned - Senhor Walser - is not short essays book. It's part of a series called The Neighbourhood - O Bairro - in which Gonçalo M. Tavares includes the names of many authors. Robert Walser is, in deed, the center of this one book that we are talking about. However, the fact that the books may have other authors names' it does not mean that the books are about them. These same authors serve as an inspiration, as a starting point but do not interfere in the content. And I only know this because I'm portuguese. I'm sure there plenty of english language authors which you are aware of and I'm not.


    P. S. - Gonçalo's books are being widely translated, however I do not know which ones are being translated into english.

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