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KOKOSCHKA'S DOLL

By Afonso Cruz

Translated by Rahul Bery

PUBLISHED BY MACLEHOSE PRESS, 2021

The amorphous and labyrinthine structure of Kokoschka’s Doll is certainly demanding. Portuguese polymath Afonso Cruz presents an array of parallel and tangential stories and themes that propel, then divert, and then re-establish the thrust of the novel’s narrative time and again. Ostensibly, this is the story of two Dresden families, spanning the twentieth century and two continents, but it is in fact more an exploration of ideas for which the characters are a cypher. The author’s intent is disguised in passages of fragmentary prose; constantly re-examining themes from different perspectives until the overlaying narration cleverly creates a clarity of vision. Perception is an obsession of this novel; Cruz offers the reader multiple ways of seeing events and people, questioning the truth of any one perspective.

THE RETURN

By Dulce Maria Cardoso

Translated by Ángel Gurría-Quintana

PUBLISHED BY MACLEHOSE PRESS, 2016

Luanda, 1975. The Angolan War of Independence has been raging for at least a decade, but with the collapse of the Salazar dictatorship, defeat for the Portuguese is now in sight. Thousands of settlers are fleeing back to Portugal to escape the brutality of the Angolan rebels.

Rui is fifteen years old. He has lived in Luanda all his life and has never even visited the far-away homeland – although he has heard many stories. But now his family are finally accepting that they too must return, and Rui is filled with a mixture of excitement and dread at the prospect. But just as they are leaving for the airport, his father is taken away by the rebels, and the family must leave without him (...)

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PHENOTYPES

By Paulo Scott

Translated by Daniel Hahn

PUBLISHED BY AND OTHER STORIES, 2022

Paulo Scott here probes the old wounds of race in Brazil, and in particular the loss of a black identity independent from the history of slavery. Exploratory rather than didactic, a story of crime, street-life and regret as much as a satirical novel of ideas, Phenotypes is a seething masterpiece of rage and reconciliation.

SEVASTOPOL

By Emilio Fraia

Translated by Zoe Perry

PUBLISHED BY LOLLIE EDITIONS , 2021

Sevastopol contains three distinct narratives, each burrowing into a crucial turning point in a person’s life: a young woman gives a melancholy account of her obsession with climbing Mount Everest; a Peruvian-Brazilian vanishes into the forest after staying in a musty, semi-abandoned inn somewhere in the haunted depths of the Brazilian countryside; a young playwright embarks on the production of a play about the city of Sevastopol and a Russian painter portraying Crimean War soldiers. Inspired by Tolstoy’s The Sevastopol Sketches, Emilio Fraia masterfully weaves together these stories of yearning and loss, obsession and madness, failure and the desire to persist, in a restrained manner reminiscent of the prose of Anton Chekhov, Roberto Bolaño, and Rachel Cusk.

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TRANSPARENT CITY

By Ondjaki

Translated by Stephen Henighan

PUBLISHED BY BIBLIOASIS, 2018

In a crumbling apartment block in the Angolan city of Luanda, families work, laugh, scheme, and get by. In the middle of it all is the melancholic Odonato, nostalgic for the country of his youth and searching for his lost son. As his hope drains away and the city outside his doors changes beyond all recognition, Odonato’s flesh becomes transparent and his body increasingly weightless.

Alongside, disparate stories are woven into the narrative, spanning from the tragic to the comic, from the surreal to the every-day, culminating into a depiction of near-future Luanda. A captivating blend of magical realism, scathing political satire, tender comedy, and literary experimentation, Transparent City offers a gripping and joyful portrait of urban Africa quite unlike any before yet published in English, and places Ondjaki among the continent’s most accomplished writers.

THAT HAIR

By Djaimilia Pereira de Almeida

Translated by Eric M. B. Becker

PUBLISHED BY TIN HOUSE, 2020

“The story of my curly hair,” says Mila, the narrator of Djaimilia Pereira de Almeida’s autobiographically inspired tragicomedy, “intersects with the story of at least two countries and, by extension, the underlying story of the relations among several continents: a geopolitics.” Mila is the Luanda-born daughter of a black Angolan mother and a white Portuguese father. She arrives in Lisbon at the tender age of three, and feels like an outsider from the jump. Through the lens of young Mila’s indomitably curly hair, her story interweaves memories of childhood and adolescence, family lore spanning four generations, and present-day reflections on the internal and external tensions of a European and African identity. In layered and luscious prose, That Hair enriches and deepens a global conversation, challenging in necessary ways our understanding of racism, feminism, and the double inheritance of colonialism, not yet fifty years removed from Angola’s independence. It’s the story of coming of age as a black woman in a nation at the edge of Europe that is also rapidly changing, of being considered an outsider in one’s own country, and the impossibility of “returning” to a homeland one doesn’t in fact know.

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