Translated from the original Portuguese by Daniel Hahn
On the eve of Angolan independence, Ludo bricks herself into her apartment, where she will remain for the next thirty years. She lives off vegetables and pigeons, burns her furniture and books to stay alive and keeps herself busy by writing her story on the walls of her home.
The outside world slowly seeps into Ludo’s life through snippets on the radio, voices from next door, glimpses of a man fleeing his pursuers and a note attached to a bird’s foot. Until one day she meets Sabalu, a young boy from the street who climbs up to her terrace.
About the Author
José Eduardo Agualusa was born in Huambo, Angola, in 1960, and is one of the leading literary voices in Angola and the Portuguese-speaking world. His novel Creole was awarded the Portuguese Grand Prize for Literature, and The Book of Chameleons won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2007. Agualusa lives between Portugal, Angola and Brazil.
Awarded Lusophone African Author, Agualusa builds an unusual character – based on a real person – of a woman who confines herself to her apartment, shocked by the events that led to Angolan independence and almost three decades of civil war. Agualusa masterfully portrays Angola and Luanda with all their violence, mysticism and lunacy but also warmth.
A remarkable novel that encourages the reader to continue in order to realize completely its extraordinary meaning. Written in a very literary way, the novel delights us by its quality and by the emotional story of the main character. Insofar as it reveals key moments of the recent Angola history intertwined with the lives of ordinary people, the author builds a kaleidoscope that ends up becoming a very, very good novel.
Shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize in 2016, best translated book award for fiction.