Magazine article New Internationalist

The Book of Chameleons

Magazine article New Internationalist

The Book of Chameleons

Article excerpt

The Book of Chameleons by Jose Eduardo Agualusa translated by Daniel Hahn (Arcadia ISBN 190514715 5)

In Creole, his only other novel translated into English, José Eduardo Agualusa took the reader on a journey of high adventure and derring-do. The latest book from this Angolan author is a much more sober, considered affair. Nevertheless, The Book of Chameleons packs quite a punch into fewer than 200 pages.

The novel, narrated by a mysterious, all-seeing character, concerns Felix Ventura, an albino living in present-day Luanda. Felix has an unusual profession; he sells histories. If your family line is insufficiently distinguished, Felix will invent a patronage filled with heroes, adventurers and statesmen. As his calling card has it, he will 'guarantee your children a better past'.

Felix creates histories, complete with passports, photographs and documentary evidence, for all and sundry, including many an ambitious politician wishing to lay claim to a fictitious revolutionary past. …

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