...Ciccio’s search for this long-lost half-brother becomes a lifelong obsession, bringing him into contact with Brazil’s sprawling community of German expats and summoning the manifold horrors of the war years ... Meanwhile, Brazil is generating its own horrors. Ciccio’s full brother, Mimmo, a louche ladies’ man but hardly a dissident, falls in with the wrong crowd and is 'disappeared' by the military government. The twin absences blend together, forming a void that Ciccio fills with books, music, women and increasingly lunging efforts to discover the fates of his missing siblings ... Mr. Buarque combines documentary records with imaginative leaps into the unlit recesses of history. Just as ghosts mingle with their survivors, fact bleeds into fiction to create a book of potent emotional force.
This discovery of a possible half-brother fuels Ciccio’s next decades as he tries to find the facts behind the missive. With the 1964 Brazilian military coup as political background, Ciccio’s family, rather than coming together, disintegrates, yet still he pursues the potential of a German brother ... Based on Buarque’s own discovery of such a letter, this fast-paced narrative captures perfectly the raw emotions and hormones of a teenager in turmoil. Not mature enough to think through consequences, Ciccio and his friends rush into action, whether at the sight of a pretty girl or a political protest. They leap to conclusions—often hilarious, sometimes dangerous—that multiply the narrative threads, so that the reader, like Ciccio, can’t always tell where the truth lies. The lives created by Ciccio, both real and imagined, are engrossing and delightful; the author as well as the translator adeptly keep the language and tone fresh, bringing moments of light and joy to otherwise calamitous circumstances.
Autobiographical fiction which follows protagonist Ciccio de Hollander’s mission to track down a long-lost brother Sergio ... The story is woven in with the displacement of WWII, through leftist disappearances during Brazil’s military dictatorship, and into the modern age of social media ... My German Brother delivers a tragic account of a man who outsources his sense of self and uses literature as a social tool rather than as a form of human discovery. Yet if Buarque was aware of this estrangement, he does not directly condemn his protagonist in the text, rarely succumbing to self-criticism or self-reflection. The novel is matter-of-fact in its account of historical events, not batting an eye at the disappearances of the protagonist’s best friend and brother at the hands of the military dictatorship. From reflection on the text, whether or not it is Buarque’s intention, arises a question of what is lost in emotional dissociation.
Wistful novel by Brazilian writer and singer/songwriter Buarque one with plenty of autobiography in its pages, of a son’s quest for the brother he never knew ... Ciccio is a Brazilian teenager who, mostly ignored at home as long as he keeps quiet, acts out in anti-social ways, including boosting cars with his pal Thelonious. His taste is questionable, since he’s given to bad whiskey and the first car we see them steal is a Skoda, but Ciccio is a young man of resources all the same Ciccio...discovers a letter, 'written in German and teeming with capital letters,' to his father from a woman named Anne Ernst. The letter evokes buried memories of whispered conversations between Ciccio’s father and mother of a son he sired while working in Germany just before the rise of the Nazis.
In early-1960s São Paulo, teenager Ciccio de Hollander discovers hidden in an old book a 1931 letter revealing that his father left an illegitimate child behind in prewar Berlin. Enthralled, he imagines his half-brother while trying to track him down...(however) during Brazil’s 1968 government crackdown, police confiscate all documents relevant to the half-brother ... Buarque’s novel about freedom and repression in Germany and Brazil is both funny and disturbing ... A slight but poignant exploration of the past that lies tucked away between the pages of musty books, revealing that our parents had lives before we were born.