Borges and the Eternal Orangutans
by Luis Verissimo
Translated from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa
Vogelstein is a loner who has always lived among books. Suddenly, fate grabs hold of his insignificant life and carries him off to Buenos Aires, to a conference on Edgar Allan Poe, the inventor of the modern detective story. There Vogelstein meets his idol, Jorge Luis Borges, and for reasons that a mere passion for literature cannot explain, he finds himself at the center of a murder investigation that involves arcane demons, the mysteries of the Kabbala, the possible destruction of the world, and the Elizabethan magus John Dee’s “Eternal Orangutan,” which, given all the time in the world, would end up writing all the known books in the cosmos. Verissimo’s small masterpiece is a literary tour de force and a brilliant mystery novel rolled into one.