The Buenos Aires Quintet
In fact, the Colegio de Periodistas de Cataluña awards two prizes named for Vázquez Montalbán, one in sports journalism, the other in cultural or political journalism. There's a bit o'boxing in this novel, and politics and culture? You name it, and it's here, from tango, meditations on Jorge Luis Borges and Catalan food to pointed jokes about Carlos Menem, Argentina's president when Vázquez Montalbán wrote the book.
Mostly, the book is a moving psychological travelogue through Buenos Aires in the years after Argentina's military dictatorship, an "almost unreal" city, perhaps fitting for a novel in which the shade of Jorge Luis Borges figures prominently.
Though Vázquez Montalbán plucks his nihilistic gourmand of a detective, Pepe Carvalho, from Barcelona for this novel (he's looking for his uncle's missing son), fans need not worry. Carvalho still manages to eat well, staying in frequent touch by phone with his chef/assistant, Biscuter, back home for culinary advice.
And I have just found a link to the abstract for a thesis by one Anna Maria Valsecchi from the Università degli Studi di Bergamo titled in English translation When the Mediterranean hosts a detective story: Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, Andrea Camilleri, Jean-Claude Izzo. That's one thesis that I bet was fun to write.
© Peter Rozovsky 2009