JosA[c] Eduardo Agualusa and Daniel Hahn (translator); A GENERAL THEORY OF OBLIVION; Archipelago Books (Fiction: Translations) 18.00 ISBN: 9780914671312
Byline: Karen Rigby
Survival and human resourcefulness are explored in this entertaining cross section of life in Angola.
JosA[c] Eduardo Agualusa presents a novel that turns self-preservation and fear into a prismatic exploration of survival. A General Theory of Oblivion -- translated from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn -- features Ludo, a Portuguese exile who secludes herself in her missing brother-in-law and sister's apartment on the eve of Angola's independence. Building a wall to block the doorway, she begins an eccentric life of deprivation and diaristic creation that spans nearly thirty years. Brief tales follow a mercenary, a composer, an orphan, a businessman, and other bold characters to create an ample portrait of human resourcefulness.
A writer and journalist whose awards include the Independent Foreign Fiction prize, Agualusa rounds the edges of harsh conflicts in a plot that relishes the absurd. Titled chapters, several of which stand alone as flash fiction, alternate between Ludo's observations from her terrace, fragments from her diary, and the stories of neighboring passersby, many of whom are linked by the improbable journey of a carrier pigeon. The nonlinear arrangement cleverly allows new situations to...