cover image Saudade


Suneeta Peres da Costa. Transit, $15.95 trade paper (120p) ISBN 978-1-945492-28-0

This elliptical, potent work from Peres da Costa (Homework) skips through the early years of a young woman of Goan parentage in Angola, remarking on her life and events there as seen through young eyes. The narrator only names herself toward the end of the work and gives no dates for events. That vagueness, combined with the brief chapters of single stream-of-consciousness paragraphs, give this volume a dreamlike quality. Young Maria-Cristina’s voice changes only incrementally, so it’s difficult to perceive the passage of time at first. She lives a rather privileged life, the daughter of two Brahmin caste parents, her father a lawyer, first in Benguela and later in the capital of Luanda. At first, she spends her days at home remarking on the activities of her mother and the two servants. These early vignettes are succeeded by reminiscences of schoolgirl life into which awareness of historical incidents only gradually enters—a war in Kashmir, the assassination of Amílcar Cabral. This is the tale of a young life only begun, whose “destiny was unwritten” and who is yet “unscarred by history’s vicissitudes.” A familiarity with 1960s Angola will enhance a reader’s appreciation of this work due to how limited the child’s perspective is, but there is a certain universality to Maria-Cristina’s youthful thoughts that makes this both moving and broadly accessible. (Oct.)