cover image Transparent City

Transparent City

Ondjaki, trans. from the Portuguese by Stephen Henighan. Biblioasis (Consortium, U.S. dist.; UTP, Canadian dist.), $14.95 trade paper (392p) ISBN 978-1-77196-143-1

Ondjaki shares intertwining stories set in his hometown, Luanda, the Angolan capital, in this darkly pretty novel that begins and ends with a fire that devastates the city and is peppered with poetry and asides. A disappearing man “hopelessly in love with another time” laments the relationship he used to have with his city; a seashell seller falls in love; a mailman tries to acquire a moped; a young boy searches for his missing mother; a journalist attempts to assassinate the president; a shyster starts an artistic movement; a visiting scientist becomes enthralled by an albino cockroach. These disparate stories are woven into a beautiful narrative that touches on government corruption, the privatization of water, the dangers of extracting oil for wealth, and the bastardization of religion for profit.. The novel reads like a love song to a tortured, desperately messed-up city that is undergoing remarkable transformations. (Apr.)