Keskustelu75 Books Challenge for 2023

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tammikuu 25, 4:38 am


The image is of Sao Tome which is a beautiful but sadly impoverished island off the West Coast of Africa. I went there on a business / aid fact finding mission on behalf of the Malaysian government in the last decade and I would love to return someday soon and deliver some projects there.

tammikuu 25, 4:42 am

The Countries of :

Mozambique, Cape Verde, Sao Tome & Principe, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea and Angola all qualify this month as the Lusophone (Portuguese speaking) countries of Africa.

I plan to read :

Mia Couto - Mozambique
Jose Eduardo Agualusa - Angola
Baltasar Lopes - Cape Verde

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 25, 10:10 am

I’ll see if my library has some books I can fit into this month’s challenge as I doubt if I have anything that would fit here at home. This should be especially interesting to me as I’m trying to teach myself Portuguese now.

tammikuu 25, 1:51 pm

I've got something lined up for every country, although I think I'm going to save Equatorial Guinea for December since everything I can find from there was written in Spanish.

I've made a few lists with works by authors from Cabo Verde/Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, and São Tomé and Príncipe. Feel free to add to them as long as the authors are from the countries or have a claim to nationality.

Cabo Verde
Equatorial Guinea
São Tomé and Príncipe

tammikuu 26, 12:44 pm

I'm a little limited by what I can get through my library, but I have requested Poets of Mozambique edited by Frederick G Williams. This bilingual book seems to have both a Portuguese/English and a Spanish edition, although only the Spanish edition seems to be listed here on LT. The translator/editor seems to have other books of Lusophone poetry, including one from Cape Verde.

So we shall see.

tammikuu 26, 12:50 pm

I will probably sit this month out, or return to it later in the year.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 26, 4:07 pm

I just put a hold on The Book of Chameleons by José Eduardo Agualusa, an author born in Angola. I hope it comes in soon!

tammikuu 26, 3:57 pm

I'm going to read The Book of Chameleons as well.

tammikuu 26, 6:40 pm

tammikuu 26, 9:19 pm

>9 quondame: Ditto ditto

tammikuu 26, 9:34 pm

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 26, 10:15 pm

São Tomé and Príncipe: Island Moors & Native Dance by Gervásio Kaiser

Literally the only works I could find in English from São Tomé and Príncipe are these short stories. Sadly, they aren't any good: I wouldn't call them incomplete thoughts, rather they are thoughts that have barely even begun to form.

tammikuu 31, 12:38 pm

I have four books in the queue:

Tuner of Silences by Mia Couto
The First Wife: A Tale of Polygamy by Paulina Chiziane

The Ultimate Tragedy by Abdulai Sila

Cape Verde:
Madwoman of Serrano by Dina Salustio

tammikuu 31, 4:02 pm

I'll probably read Transparent City by the Angolan author Ondjaki for this month's challenge.

tammikuu 31, 5:14 pm

I'll be reading Under the Frangipani by Mia Couto.

helmikuu 1, 7:50 am

>7 SqueakyChu: Oh I want to read this one!

""Memory is a landscape watched from the window of a moving train...things happen before our very eyes, we know them to be real, but they're so far away we can't touch them. Some are so far, so very far away, and the train moving so fast, that we can't be sure any longer that they really did happen. Maybe we merely dreamed them?""

helmikuu 1, 7:59 am

>13 labfs39: The Madwoman of Serrano This sounds very familiar. Is this a new book? I think its one i already read

helmikuu 1, 8:55 am

>17 cindydavid4: Madwoman of Serrano was originally published in 1998, English translation 2019 and published by Dedalus.

helmikuu 1, 9:18 am

ah,never mind then. I remember a story about a baby falling from the sky, and a mad woman but it must be another tale

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 4, 12:44 am

I would recommend Saudade by Suneeta Peres da Costa, which is set in Angola, though perhaps it's a stretch as I think written in English and the author, I think, lives in Australia? But it was a interesting little book.

I also liked La Bastarda ; which I think was mentioned above.

I think maybe I will look for Under the Frangipani, you can't really beat that title.

helmikuu 4, 8:32 pm

I just finished By Night the Mountain Burns by Juan Tomas Avila Laurel

A man looks back on his childhood on an unnamed island off the coast of Africa. With a few exceptions that feel like the 4th wall breaking, the narrative voice feels like it belongs to a child. This is an exceptional story told in an exceptional way where the stories repeat, turn around on themselves and swoop off onto tangents which I totally loved.

However, the story itself was difficult to read because it really relentlessly depicts how difficult it is to live on an unnamed island off the coast of Africa. The child voice buffers the woe by telling the tales simply, but we learn of a cholera outbreak, hungry bellies, an act of unspeakable violence, abusive teachers, she-devils, dangerous waters and fires all being part of this man's childhood. There is love, but no laughter. Even though this is a child's tale, there is very little play, no silliness, no whimsy or joy. None of the things American's associate with childhood are given much attention here. This is a story of hardship and scarcity.

The people here live in strong community. It's a small island and the people are all familiar with one another even when they aren't close. They are dependent on one another for survival and so grief, food, fire, parenting are all shared. Almost everything is done with what the boy describes as customs, rules and traditions. Men whistle as they take canoes out to sea, children must stay inside during funeral processions, women plant and farm while men fish.

It was a challenge to remain present while reading this one, but nevertheless important to do so. Strongly recommended.

Avila Laurel is from Equatorial Guinea, and one of very few writers translated into English. After finishing the book, I dug around a little to learn more about him. His family is from the island of Annobon which, I think it's safe to say, is the basis for the island life depicted in the novel. He is a strong voice for democracy and a vocal opponent to the dictatorship in place since the country became independent. Although he resisted longer than most artists and intellectuals, he did eventually leave the country and migrate to Barcelona. There is a documentary about him called 'The Writer From a Country Without Bookstores' that I hope to track down as well.

helmikuu 4, 9:02 pm

>21 nancyewhite: Thank you for that excellent review. I will go and see if I can find any books by him.

helmikuu 4, 9:30 pm

Madwoman of Serrano by Dina Salústio, translated from the Portuguese by Jethro Soutar
Originally published in 1998, English translation 2019, Dedalus, 228 p.

This is the first novel by a female author to be published in Cape Verde, and the first to be translated into English.

The novel opens in Serrano, an isolated village on the cusp of modernization. It is a mystical place, full of magical realism. The midwife is the most powerful member of the village, delivering babies and whispering their fates to them, initiating boys into manhood, and using her wisdom to maintain the balance between nature and the inhabitants. Watching over everything as both an outsider and the ultimate insider is the madwoman, reborn every 33 years until her fate is fulfilled.

Jeronimo leaves the village to fulfill his military service and wants to stay in the city and be a mechanic, but he promises his father to return and tend their land. One day he finds a delirious woman in the woods and falls in love with her. He is an intermediary between the rural village and the modern city.

Filipa lives in the city and is a successful businesswoman, but feels empty and rudderless since she left Serrano as a child. Life in the city is modern and sensible, but she misses her father and her friend, the madwoman.

Moving back and forth between village and city, Jeronimo and Filipa, the novel explores themes of urbanization and environmental degradation, female empowerment, and the murky delineations between sanity and madness. The author's language reflects the environment, being lush and convoluted when the action takes place in Serrano and almost staccato when in the city. Recommended for those interested in magical realism and/or ecofeminism.

helmikuu 6, 12:07 pm

I read this one in a single day. It has the same translator as The Madwoman of Serrano and the same publisher, Dedalus. Once again the cover art was striking. This one is Marcha de Carnaval Tribal by Cipriano Oquiniame.

The Ultimate Tragedy by Abdulai Sila, translated from the Portuguese by Jethro Soutar
Originally published 1995, English translation 2017, Dedalus Books, 187 p.

The first novel from Guinea Bissau to be translated into English, it is set during the years leading up to the armed revolt against the Portuguese. This time of budding political consciousness and desire for action in the 1950s is the backdrop for a love triangle between a young woman, a local leader, and a semi-assimilated teacher. Each of the three narrates part of the story.

Ndani is thirteen when she follows the advice of her father's fourth wife and moves to the city to become a housemaid. She had been warned that Whites were not like Blacks and lived very differently, and the first couple of chapters are her attempts to understand them. The point of view then shifts to the Régulo, or minor king of a village, and his interactions with the White administrator of the region. He develops ideas about peaceful resistance against the Portuguese colonizers. The point of view then shifts again, this time to the Black teacher, educated by Portuguese priests to be a native mouthpiece for Christianity, and his relationships with the other two. The last chapter brings the reader back to Ndani.

Although the allusions are a bit heavy-handed at times, overall this was an interesting snapshot of a particular moment in Guinea Bissau's history. The evolution of perspective of the Portuguese colonizers is represented by the White woman for whom Ndani works. She goes from denigrating Blacks to wanting to convert them to starting schools to create native teachers who can evangelize on their behalf. Ndani is at first in awe of her White employers, but quickly learns that they can be cruel and capricious. The Régulo initially has a mutually beneficial relationship with the administration, but that rapidly deteriorates. The teacher was educated to believe in Catholicism, but realizes that his own people espouse similar ideas, without the hypocrisy displayed by the Portuguese colonizers. Everything is in flux as the country moves toward a fight for independence.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 8, 9:36 pm

Angola: Mayombe by Pepetela, translated by Michael Wolfers

Set during the revolution in Angola, Mayombe looks at the wounds caused by colonialism, racism, and tribalism through the eyes of a group of guerrillas; unfortunately, it looks at these issues mostly by having a couple of men speak in cliched Communist rhetoric at each other.

It's also kind of sexist.

Mozambique: We Killed Mangy-Dog & Other Mozambique Stories by Luís Bernardo Honwana, translated by Dorothy Guedes

I found most of the stories forgettable (as in, could barely remember them immediately after reading), but the title story and "The Hands of the Blacks" are both exceptionally well written and make this collection worth seeking out.

helmikuu 9, 12:09 am

Lisa & Amanda - very well done for treading less well beaten paths this month!

I did read : The Book of Chameleons for which my obtuse poem serves as a sort of review.

The Book of Chameleons by Jose Eduardo Agualusa
Date of Publication : 2004
Origin of Author : Angola
Pages : 180 pp


He is an observer,
though largely unobserved.
He stalks his prey aware
of being, in turn, preyed upon.

Shuffles in the slippery
silence of morning
across powder dry emulsion;
matte is better than gloss -
while it does not endure
it aids adhesion especially
in the humid air which sticks
rather than slithers.

From a vantage point
he is witness to the folly
and inexactitude of words spoken,
deeds doubted or denied.
The unobtrusive beholder of trysts
and twists and turns;
of joy and anger,
hope and despair -
the more the scene enthralls,
the more certain to be supper for another.

Mildly recommended.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 9, 8:14 am

“Magic Realism” is not my thing; I usually can find little of either quality in works so labelled. But Mia Couto seemed to be the Lusophone African writer whose works I could most easily lay my hands on, so I gave The Last Flight of the Flamingo a try and was very pleasantly surprised. Have now put a hold on a second novel of his at the library. Translator seemed to preserve poetic qualities in Couto’s prose although of course I have no access to the original. One thing: the narrator of TLFOTF is an indigenous Mozambican, whereas Couto, although born there, is of European background. In North America this would probably be seen as cultural appropriation. Thoughts?

helmikuu 9, 8:22 am

I also read Mia Couto. I finished Under the Frangipani last night. I'm not sure quite to make of it between the magical realism and the political elements. I don't have a frame of reference for either one. I liked the writing and the translation well enough to realize that I would have appreciated it much more if I had more to bring to the reading experience.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 9, 8:33 am

>28 cbl_tn: Well when I was looking for a Lusophone writer for this part of the Africa Novel Challenge, (after I found out what “Lusophone” means), I assumed Couto was from Angola, so I am right out of the loop. But I think we will see many common elements of the African colonial experience over this year. One of which is being “given” a common language in a political entity comprising many different indigenous linguistic groups. A mixed blessing, no doubt, but important to the forging of a common identity going forward.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 10, 7:09 pm

>26 PaulCranswick: Starting the book of chameleons Ill have to keep your poem nearby so I can make sure I hit all those moments!

ETA finished, review on its way

helmikuu 11, 11:09 am

>27 booksaplenty1949: the narrator of TLFOTF is an indigenous Mozambican, whereas Couto, although born there, is of European background. In North America this would probably be seen as cultural appropriation. Thoughts?

That's an interesting question. Since Mia Couto was born, raised, and educated in Mozambique, I didn't have a problem with his stance in the one book of his that I read, The Tuner of Silences. His protagonist was mixed race. I would be curious what others think as well.

helmikuu 11, 12:32 pm

>31 labfs39: I am not questioning his status as a Mozambican. But as the son of colonists his experience would have been quite different than that of a colonised person. That would be a big issue in writing a novel from the point of view of the latter. At least he doesn’t claim to have any indigenous African background. “Pretendians” are viewed very negatively in North America.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 11, 1:51 pm

>32 booksaplenty1949: I agree, it's an interesting question. I'm curious how not only other members on the thread view this issue, but how he's perceived in Mozambique as well. Thanks for bringing it up.

ETA: I'm trying to research this a little more. Does it make a difference I wonder, that he fought for independence against the colonizers and was thought a race traitor by some Portuguese? I was reading I am White and African, an article in the Guardian.

helmikuu 11, 4:43 pm

>34 booksaplenty1949: Interesting. No arguments from me that we need to celebrate Black African authors. My next book is by Mozambican Poulli Chiziane.

helmikuu 11, 5:05 pm

helmikuu 11, 6:35 pm

>35 labfs39: It’s just the narrative POV issue that concerns me. No quarrel with the fact that Couto is an African writer. Reading a travel book—Remote People—by Evelyn Waugh. In Kenya on his way home from Haile Selassie’s coronation. He, of all people, makes a compelling case about the myth of indigeneity in human history.

helmikuu 11, 11:08 pm

>33 labfs39: etc It is not a straightforward issue. My gut reaction is that there should be no bounds placed upon fiction but there is a proviso on point of view. What I mean if the author is purposely misrepresenting his subject and the surrounding history that should be called out for what it is - misrepresentation.

If we try to place undue limits on human imagination - if black, white and yellow and brown cannot write about each other or even from the imagined point of view of each other; if men cannot write from the perspective of women & vice versa or gay write about straight interchangeably then efforts to understand each other will flounder, segregation into constituent groups will result and the world will be sepia tinged instead of demonstrating all the full panoply of its beautiful hues.

helmikuu 11, 11:15 pm

>38 PaulCranswick: If we try to place undue limits on human imagination - if black, white and yellow and brown cannot write about each other or even from the imagined point of view of each other; if men cannot write from the perspective of women & vice versa or gay write about straight interchangeably then efforts to understand each other will flounder, segregation into constituent groups will result and the world will be sepia tinged instead of demonstrating all the full panoply of its beautiful hues.

Beautifully expressed, Paul.

helmikuu 11, 11:18 pm

>39 SqueakyChu: Thank you, Madeline. Means a lot coming from someone as consistently eloquent as you. xx

helmikuu 11, 11:18 pm

>32 booksaplenty1949: As you say, Couto has a different experience being of European ancestry in a country that was colonized by Europeans. But also consider he is an ethnic minority in his country, which is yet another kind of experience. I have no answers; all I can do is keep reading and asking questions.

helmikuu 12, 1:17 am

>41 amanda4242: A big difference, I imagine, in the experience of being an ethnic minority depending on whether you are the coloniser or the colonised. There’s also a hierarchy. Waugh’s book gives some insight into the position of Indians in Kenya and explains why they were a convenient target for Idi Amin when he came to power.

helmikuu 12, 2:05 am

>42 booksaplenty1949: It is self-evident that experiences are different, even hugely different. Waugh's book is fascinating and insightful but it is a work of non-fiction. What we were really considering, I thought, was fiction. Whilst one's experiences will always inform our imagination, they do not necessarily control it exclusively and certainly they do not limit it.

I am a white, heterosexual, male from Northern England and a product of the lower working class - Anglo-Irish farming and coal mining stock. Am I to write only about people of my own narrow ilk? What a boring world it would be.

I hope my recent poem didn't culturally appropriate the poor Gecko.

helmikuu 12, 2:15 am

>38 PaulCranswick: Personally I find Uncle Tom and Esther Summerson pretty cringe-worthy. Grey Owl and his many successors have been described, accurately in my view, as suffering from a kind of cultural Munchausen Syndrome. Although I realise there is a difference between adopting a narrative POV and actually presenting yourself as a member of an oppressed group, I think the difference is not absolute, and as time passes the inauthenticity of that narrative POV becomes more evident. “Humani nihil a me alienum puto” is attractive but not the whole story, I think.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 12, 2:44 am

>44 booksaplenty1949: I am sure that the more 'authentic' the story the more realistic, believable and affecting it can be. In the hands of a great writer, however, the subject will always be well portrayed and its scope unbounded. Good fiction writing is always 'good' writing.

I haven't read Uncle Tom's Cabin and am not particularly attracted to do so but I hesitate to criticize something written 170 years ago for a point of view that was certainly in advance of its time and well-intentioned, even though many of its reviews describe pretty turgid prose. Today Uncle Tom himself is stereotyped but back in the 1850s he served a very useful purpose in changing a lot of attitudes in the Northern States. A case for cultural appropriation at that time when the voice of those being appropriated were completely excluded.

It cannot be that I could write more believably about menstruation than all of the ladies in the group but I have every right to imagine it and write from that imagination. I am not appropriating women, I would be attempting to be in sympathy with them.

helmikuu 12, 6:47 am

>45 PaulCranswick: I am not faulting HB Stowe’s motives, although I would point out that she relied heavily on published narratives by formerly enslaved persons which were in fact available. She was able to command a wider audience for obvious reasons. But while in the moral sphere intention is everything and execution nothing, in the artistic sphere the opposite is the case.

helmikuu 12, 7:25 am

>46 booksaplenty1949: I do agree that artistically her book has been panned by many, but I haven't read it, and there is no doubt that its publication was influential in changing many attitudes in some parts of America.

helmikuu 12, 8:05 am

>47 PaulCranswick: I notice you left Esther Summerson out of the discussion. I don’t think that in most cases writers who appropriate the voices of oppressed persons are doing so for “political” reasons.

helmikuu 12, 8:17 am

>48 booksaplenty1949: I didn't respond on Esther Summerson because I also haven't read Bleak House although it is on my bucket list for this year some time. I see nothing wrong in Dickens trying to write from an oppressed woman's viewpoint but I reserve my own judgement on how successfully I think he carried it off, because I simply cannot give an opinion as it stands.

helmikuu 12, 9:41 am

Finished Evelyn Waugh’s Remote People just now. Not relevant to Lusophone Africa—-read apropos of a recent interest in the Bright Young Things—-but an interesting glimpse of East Africa in the 1930s from the point of view of someone with obvious biases but no agenda. Particularly interesting on the subject of Indians in Africa, giving some context to the departure of many “Kenya Asians” in the late 60s and the expulsion of Ugandans of Indian background by Idi Amin in 1972. Colonialism is a very complicated subject.

helmikuu 12, 1:20 pm

>43 PaulCranswick: he it didn't, fit quite well actually

>30 cindydavid4: I agree very well said

helmikuu 12, 1:23 pm

>44 booksaplenty1949: translate that for me pls

helmikuu 12, 1:27 pm

>52 cindydavid4: “I think nothing human is alien to me.”

helmikuu 12, 1:29 pm

>43 PaulCranswick: It’s not what you write *about*, it’s who you write *as*.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 13, 5:24 pm

Cabo Verde: Who Am I? by Bela Monteiro

Bela Monteiro's father moved with his wife and children to Angola from Cabo Verde sometime in the 1960s. While his wife was away caring for one of their children who had been in a serious car accident, papa Monteiro fathered Bela with the maid's daughter. When his mistress again became pregnant, he convinced her that he should take two year old Bela with him to Cabo Verde to escape the conflict that was happening in Angola, and that he would send for her and their second child when he could; unsurprisingly, he never sent word.

Monteiro's later life contained much the same drama as her infancy: her stepmother wanted nothing to do with her, so she spent a large chunk of her childhood with an aunt; a neighbor molested her when she was nine; her stepmother eventually decided to allow Bela into her home, but the family had moved to the US by then, so young Bela was uprooted from the only home she had Known to be flown halfway across the world. The family lived in Brockton, Massachusetts which is home to a large community of Cabo Verdean expats, so Monteiro was able to acclimate relatively well; unfortunately, she also acquired a string of bad boyfriends, was involved in a motorcycle accident, and tried to kill herself at least twice.

So, this was a short read full of much misery with some moments of joy thrown in. I wish I could say that it is well-written, but it is not. Monteiro is really bad with dates so I was never sure when something was happening, she jumps around so I was never sure where something was happening, and she would often start talking about people she had never mentioned before as if the reader was already intimately acquainted with them. I'm sorry for Monteiro's suffering and glad she has found happiness, but I really wish she had found someone who wasn't a friend to read her manuscript before she decided to self-publish it.

helmikuu 13, 5:27 pm

>54 booksaplenty1949: We are still talking about the scope of human imagination. A work of fiction. A story. When we want to limit who can write about a subject and in what way we are on the road to censorship at best and an Orwellian world most likely.

helmikuu 13, 7:05 pm

>56 PaulCranswick: This is the play on which the opera Madame Butterfly is based. My Italian is non-existent, so I can just about listen to the music and forget about the ridiculous story. Puccini’s librettist, in any event, did not try to create the effect that Butterfly is speaking to Pinkerton in pidgin. But I think we can rest assured that the play, with Butterfly sounding like Prissy in Gone with the Wind will never be revived. I don’t think such things should be formally banned, of course, but I think we should recognise that they are problematic.

helmikuu 13, 7:36 pm

>57 booksaplenty1949: I am certainly not saying that certain works are not problematic and you seem to have picked a very good example and I recognize the cringe inducing nature of some writing especially from our own present vantage points. Generally writing like that will not survive the test of time.

Doesn't alter my view on the boundless nature of human imagination which we restrict and pigeon hole at our peril.

helmikuu 13, 7:53 pm

Today I read a short story by an author from São Tomé and Príncipe. It is one of the few things available in English from that country. Unfortunately it was not very good.

Native Dance: An African Story by Gervásio Kaiser

Makengo is arrested on flimsy charges, spends the night in jail, and is released the next day. He meets a local women whom he likes at a club, but she prefers to dance with an "invader," rather than a local man. Then she changes her mind. The author makes these two heavy-handed points: The colonizers arrest Black men on pretenses and "take" their women. Disappointing writing.

helmikuu 13, 9:29 pm

>59 labfs39: I've got a lead on some more São Toméan literature: Ossobó: Essays on the Literature of São Tomé and Principe apparently has a number of translated poems. I'm going to see if I can get it via ILL.

helmikuu 13, 9:34 pm

I really enjoyed the book I read for this month's challenge. A General Theory of Oblivion by Jose Eduardo Agualusa was about a young woman suffering from agorphobia living in a boarded-up apartment in Angola for 30 years. It started during the war for independence, then became a way of life for her. Quite a survival story!

helmikuu 14, 2:29 pm

>61 Donna828:,, Donna, I am currently reading that one and finding it quite good.

helmikuu 14, 9:01 pm

I read La Bastarda: Trifonia Melibea Obono for this months challenge. Quite short but I found it to be a great read.

helmikuu 15, 1:19 pm

was it here where we were discussing casting issues? I have a relevant post to that discussion but am not sure where it happened. Appreciate any hint ( this probably means I am on way too many threads here.....)

helmikuu 15, 5:12 pm

>58 PaulCranswick: On a semi-related topic I was mentioning to an acquaintance of Indian background that I was reading Kim in consequence of seeing a reference to it at an exhibition of contemporary Afghan art, and she asked me if I found it very racist. I had to confess that I didn’t think that was the right word; certainly everyone is defined by race, religion, social class, and other extrinsic factors, but this includes Kim himself, the indigent son of an Irish NCO, later railway employee, and a former nanny. Undeniably an inside picture of Indian society at the time.

helmikuu 19, 8:43 am

The First Wife: A Tale of Polygamy by Paulina Chiziane, translated from the Portuguese by David Brookshaw
Originally published 2002, English translation 2016, Archipelago Press, 494 p.

Rami and Tony have been married for twenty years and have five children. He is a senior police officer, and they live comfortably, if not extravagantly, in Maputo, Mozambique. Lately he has been working late and is often absent when Rami needs him. Soon she discovers that he has a mistress of long-standing, and she goes to confront this other woman. Julieta also has five children with Tony and is pregnant with her sixth. At first the women come to fisticuffs, but eventually realize that they have both been betrayed, for Tony has more families stashed around the city. Rami, as first wife, decides to bring the women together for mutual support and to organize this haphazard polygamous marriage into a more traditional form that grants the women some rights.

Although it took me a while to get used to the author's writing style, the plot was a page-turner from the beginning. Rami's struggle to come to terms with her husband's infidelity, and her fight for not only her rights, but the rights of all her husband's wives, is at once universal and unique. The author writes from a strong feminist perspective, but with an acknowledgment of regional differences, the influence of tradition, and the legacy of colonialism. Recommended for anyone interested in gender politics, the lives of women in Mozambique, or simply a poignant, funny satire set in Africa.

helmikuu 19, 12:16 pm

Ive ordered this; wont be here till next month but will report back anyway

helmikuu 19, 9:21 pm

Squeezing in second Lusophone novel: Mia Couto’s A River Called Time. What a great find he is. Would certainly never have heard of him without this Challenge.

helmikuu 19, 9:41 pm

I've started reading Transparent City (Os Transparentes) by the Angolan novelist Ondjaki (real name: Ndalu de Almeida), which is set in a crumbling apartment building in the Angolan capital of Luanda in the aftermath of the country's civil war and consists of vignettes about the people who live there, and in the surrounding neighborhood. It won the José Saramago Literary Prize in 2013, and I'm enjoying it so far.

helmikuu 19, 10:24 pm

sounds almost like damnificados, looks interesting

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 21, 6:07 pm

I found a poetry collection that has some São Toméan authors included, A Horse of white clouds: poems from Lusophone Africa. It's available on Open Library as a one hour checkout.

helmikuu 22, 3:01 pm

Angola: Angola is Wherever I Plant My Field by João Melo, translated by Luísa Venturini

A superb collection of absurdist short stories, each packed with ironic humor and keen insight. I enjoyed every single story, but two stood out for me: "The Revolutionary and Counter-revolutionary Duck," in which an Angolan guerrilla expertly trolls a North Korean professor; and "Angola Is Wherever I Plant My Field," which shows people not only able to survive but thrive in desperate circumstances.

Received via NetGalley, where it's available until April 1st.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 25, 9:31 am

Finished A River Called Time, my second novel by Mia Couto. Still bothered by the fact that he tells the story from the perspective of an indigenous Mozambican. I would say that there is nothing about the narrative perspective that reflects the “black” African experience but I have to admit I am completely ignorant of what that might be. In any event I enjoyed the novel; Couto strikes me as a poet first and foremost and perhaps that is why the “Magic Realism” elements did not disturb me. So glad that this Challenge introduced me to this writer. Will revisit him in future. Meanwhile, on to Half of a Yellow Sun next month. Also hope to read second novel in The Cairo Trilogy, following up on January’s beginning.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 25, 1:39 pm

Although not a novel and I'm not done reading it, I want to give a shout out to Poets of Mozambique - Poetas de Moçambique (Portuguese & English).

It has the Portuguese on one page and the English translation (or Spanish as there is also a Spanish edition) on the facing page. It begins with pre-colonial oral chants and songs and travels onward using the birth decades of the 27 poets represented.

There is an approximately one page biography of each poet. The poets are a wonderful mix: indigenous black, descended from Portuguese colonists, educated in Portugal, India, or bemoaning the lack of educational opportunity for indigenous, or a mixture of all the above.

Although it did not surprise me that several of the poets mourn those captured for the slave trade, several also mourn the lives the descendants of those captured are living in America: not just slavery, but current racism including the murder of Emmett Till and others.

So far, one of the most interesting to me is writer Antonio Quadras, a fascinating man who was born and died in Portugal, although he lived most of his life in Mozambique. Besides poetry, he was an artist, architect, playwright, novelist, publisher and teacher, and constructed the Heroes of the Nation monument. He also had several pseudonyms. After many years, it was discovered that he one of his pseudonyms was Mutimati Barnabe Joao and under that name he wrote a poem called "We the People' that became an anthem for the freedom movement. When it was discovered that it had been written by Quadras :

"Would the Portuguese condemn Quadros as a turncoat? Could the Africans accept a Portuguese (writing as a black man) as their spokesman? Not merely the creation of a literary persona, Quadros's sentiments and sympathetic treatment of the FRELIMO are genuine."

Besides being a novelist, Mia Couto is also a well-known poet, represented by fourteen of his poems, although, as that is one of the last sections of the book, I have not read them yet.

helmikuu 25, 3:13 pm

>74 streamsong: Couto’s prose is full of wordplay and imagery; I’m sure his poetry is well worth reading.

helmikuu 26, 9:46 am

>75 booksaplenty1949: I'm sure you are right! I've only read one novel by Mia Couto, Woman of the Ashes, which, as the first of a trilogy perhaps wasn't the best place to start reading Couto.

I hope to be done with Poets in the next few days, but I wanted to comment on it before people leave this thread and head on to the March authors. I'll buy a copy of Poets of Mozambique for my personal library, even though I am trying to buy fewer books due to space concerns. My personal pact is to purge three books this year for each one I buy. :)

I would also like to find a copy of Poets of Cape Verde, also translated/edited by Frederick G. Williams but that title seems to be very hard to find.

helmikuu 26, 8:04 pm

>76 streamsong: Woman of the Ashes is waiting for me at the library. Looking for something with a bit wider perspective on the Mozambican experience.

helmikuu 26, 9:08 pm

The Book of Chameleons by Jose Eduardo Agualusa

So, this was the book I could find in my library, for the Africa Lusaphone challenge. It's short, literary, narrated by a gecko who somehow represents Jorge Luis Borges. The gecko is telling the story of an Angolan who makes a living selling fake family histories to people who want a more upscale genealogy.

Now that I have read it, I remember reading someone else's review, here on LT, and thinking that it sounded too strange and literary for me, so I would skip it. It turns out that was right, but it is very well written, so if you are more literary than me, or a Borges fan, I bet you'd like it.

helmikuu 26, 10:37 pm

I could not get The Book of Chameleons from my library yet so I canceled my hold and will try to read a different book for next month's challenge.

helmikuu 27, 7:58 pm

helmikuu 27, 8:33 pm

I have just finished Woman of the Ashes by Mia Couto. He is a writer I very much appreciate but I am not sure that this one is pitched quite right.

Told from two separate perspectives and I am not sure that either is entirely convincing.

helmikuu 27, 9:44 pm

Just received the first wife a tale of polygamystill planning on reading it for this month.

maaliskuu 2, 3:59 pm

>80 kidzdoc: Yours was probably the review that I read!

maaliskuu 10, 7:19 am

looking for March link

maaliskuu 10, 11:07 am


maaliskuu 10, 7:29 pm

São Tomé and Príncipe: Ossobó: Essays on the Literature of São Tomé and Príncipe by Donald Burness

This is two long essays that are a mix of literary criticism and brief overview of São Toméan history, and an appendix with 23 poems that constitutes the largest concentration of São Toméan writing available in English that I could track down.

I'm at a bit of a loss as to who Burness was writing for: the book is in English so it's probably inaccessible to most São Toméans, and the works he discusses are inaccessible to Anglophone readers as none of them are available in English. Burness isn't a terribly engaging writer, so the only reason to pick this book up is for the poems he includes, which I didn't think were that great, either.

maaliskuu 10, 9:32 pm

I am half way through first wife a tale of polygamy and I finally stopped highlighting incredible language and thoughts, because Id fill the entire book. Unless Im mistaken this is probably going to be a 5* for me, and I hope there is another book by her coming soon.

maaliskuu 12, 11:25 am

maaliskuu 17, 2:29 pm

Interesting article on Mia Couto from the NYT.

How Mia Couto’s Words Help Weave the Story of Mozambique

maaliskuu 24, 4:46 pm

>90 amanda4242: Thank you for posting. Particularly interested to see Couto’s (brief) comment on using an indigenous African woman as a first-person narrator, something I have had an issue with.

maaliskuu 28, 4:23 pm

>90 amanda4242: Interesting article. I just read my first book by Couto for this read: Sleepwalking Land, review posted on book's page.

huhtikuu 18, 11:24 am

Finished third book by Couto, Woman of the Ashes. First of a trilogy, but must take a break from him to read my choice for April, Season of Migration to the North, before April is over. Fortunately it looks very short.

huhtikuu 18, 12:00 pm

I just finished Season of Migration to the North by Sudanese author Tayeb Salih. Lots to think about regarding colonialism and whether or not you can ever go home again. The writing is lovely and evocative.

Dust rose up behind us, and I watched the Bedouin running towards some tattered tents by some bushes southwards of us, where there were diminutive sheep and naked children. Where, O God, is the shade? Such land brings forth nothing but prophets. This drought can be cured only by the sky.

huhtikuu 18, 8:12 pm