A Stranger at My Table: The Postcolonial Story of a Family Caught in the Half-Life of Empires

Ivo de Figueiredo, trans. from the Norwegian by Deborah Dawkin. DoppelHouse, $22.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-9997544-7-4
Figueiredo’s touching, contemplative chronicle of loss and self-discovery documents his Norwegian childhood, adult reconciliation with his estranged father, and his search for his paternal roots in Goa. The narrative begins in 2011, when Figueiredo decided to learn more about his estranged father. Soon after reconnecting, however, his father exhibited signs of dementia, and the tale of reconciliation becomes one of seeking his roots and pondering identity by traveling to Goa. Poring over family history, tapes, and photographs, Figueiredo reconstructs the events preceding his birth: Figueiredo senior, descended from Goans, was born and raised in East Africa. Opportunity took him to England in 1958, where he studied engineering and fell in love with Marit, a Norwegian au pair. There were then “fewer than 150 people from Asia and Africa in Norway,” and he worried whether his future in-laws disliked “the idea... of Marit marrying a colored boy.” But Marit agreed to a Catholic wedding in a sari, and they settled in Norway. The marriage eventually fell apart due to his violent temper, as the author turned 10. This deeply realized personal narrative of a beloved mother and a distant father, finally understood from the perspective of adulthood, is a moving reading experience. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 03/15/2019
Release date: 04/01/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
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