Descendants of paupers and others with questionable histories pay Felix Ventura to fabricate respectable family trees and memories for them. One of the fake pasts he sells irrevocably changes his client’s life and his own.
Country Focus: Angola
The Book of Chameleons
By José Eduardo Agualusa
Translated by Daniel Hahn
Originally published in Portugal as O vendedor de passados by Publicações Dom Quixote, 2004.
My edition: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2008
Time period: Contemporary
Notes: Agualusa is an Angolan writer who splits his time between Angola, Portugal and Brazil. His novels Creole, My Father’s Wives, and Rainy Season have also been translated into English.
Once I was taken to a party. There was this old man, and he was celebrating his hundredth birthday. I wanted to know how he was feeling. The poor man gave me an astonished smile, and said, I don’t really know, it all happened so quickly… He talked about his hundred years as though they were some disaster that had befallen him in the last few minutes. Sometimes I feel the same way. My soul hurts with too much past in it, and so much emptiness. I feel like that old man.
Angolan writers need to be translated! Titles by westerners about Angola are included below.