Nominated by:

Biblioteca Pública Municipal do Porto, Portugal

Biblioteca Municipal Central de Lisboa, Portugal

Biblioteca Demonstrativa de Brasília, Brazil

Fundacao Biblioteca Nacional, Brazil

Publisher of nominated edition:

Dalkey Archive Press, USA

Learning to Pray in the Age of Technique

Gonçalo M. Tavares      

Translated from the original Portuguese by Daniel Hahn

2013 Longlist

In a city not quite of any particular era, a distant and calculating man named Lenz Buchmann works as a surgeon, treating his patients as little more than equations to be solved: life and death no more than results to be worked through without the least compassion. Soon, however, Buchmann’s ambition is no longer content with medicine, and he finds himself rising through the ranks of his country’s ruling party . . . until a diagnosis transforms this likely future president from a leading player into just another victim. In language that is at once precise, clinical, and oddly childlike, Gonçalo M. Tavares—the Portuguese novelist hailed by José Saramago as the greatest of his generation—here brings us another chilling investigation into the limits of human experience, mapping the creation and then disintegratin of a man we might call “evil,” and showing us how he must learn to adapt in a world he can no longer dominate.

(From Publisher)

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. He was also awarded the Prêmio Portugal Telecom de Literatura em Língua Portuguesa 2007 for Jerusalem.

Librarians’ Comments

Born of the extraordinary talent of this great novelist, this book serves us indeed a common story, a man coming to know himself. However, Tavares’ accomplishment happens to be so original one cannot help being shocked by the power of his writing so precise and radical. Every single word has a strong presence, reading it can be hurtful but also it challenges one’s traditional imagination.

In Learning to Pray in the Age of Technique the author portrays an anti-religious, cruel and ambitious surgeon who changed his profession and struggled to play an important role in politics. This is a very well written, ironic novel, criticizing modern society especially those who are unscrupulous, want to dominate and be admired, but are betrayed by destiny.

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