‘Não se Pode Morar nos Olhos de um Gato’ by Ana Margarida de Carvalho

My rating: 3 stars

A group of people surviving the sinking of a ship carrying slaves in the 19th century has the potential to be the foundation of a great story. In Não se Pode Morar nos Olhos de um Gato, the Portuguese author Ana Margarida de Carvalho didn’t fully succeed in using that premise to set in motion an engaging plot and creating fully fleshed out characters, though. There are small moments of brilliance throughout the novel. However, it seems that the author has tried too hard to awe readers in terms of the writing style, forgetting to explore the characters’ predicaments properly and to turn them into a clear narrative.

The first chapter is narrated by the wooden figure of a saint that was supposed to have protected the people on the vessel. Although slavery had already been abolished, slaves were being illegally carried on the ship. Their suffering and the appalling way they were treated are palpably conveyed in a raw way. After some altercations on board, the ship sinks near the coast of Brazil.

Eight people managed to survive the sinking of the vessel and get to a beach surrounded by an area of rocks. They were all from different backgrounds. The group consisted of Nunzio, the overseer of the slaves on the boat, a black baby boy, a servant, a priest, a slave, a noble woman and her daughter, Emina. Nunzio became smitten with Emina as soon as they met. The book consists mainly of episodes from their past. Continue reading

Books I Want to Read Until the End of 2021

There are only three full months left in 2021, and I’m falling behind in my reading challenge. In order to complete it, I will have to finish the eight books that I’m truly eager to read until the year is over. The list features both novels, short story collections and poetry. Some authors are new to me, while others are old acquaintances. Some books are massive, others are tiny. In terms of genres, they are as diverse.

 

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

I’ve only recently started reading The Luminaries and don’t have a strong opinion about it yet. As I don’t think I’ll DNF it, though, it is one of the books I want to finish until the end of the year. Set in 1866, it follows Walter Moody as he arrives in New Zealand to try his luck at the goldfields and to search for his father, who disappeared from Scotland. At the Crown Hotel, he encounters a group of twelve people who are discussing a series of crimes.

 

Não Se Pode Morar nos Olhos de um Gato by Ana Margarida de Carvalho

Set at the end of the 19th century, this novel by the Portuguese author Ana Margarida de Carvalho has been on my wish list for years. The time has come to finally read it. After the abolition of slavery, a boat illegally carrying slaves sinks near the coast of Brazil, but a group of people manages to survive. They are the main focus of this book, which seems to be most of all a character study. Continue reading

Contemporary Portuguese Authors I Want to Read

With a couple of exceptions, Portuguese authors are not that well known in the English-speaking world. That is one of the reasons why I review almost all of the books I read by them even when translations into English are not yet available. Though I try to read a mix of books written in English and in Portuguese, I feel that I haven’t been reading many contemporary Portuguese authors recently. And by contemporary, for the purpose of this post, I mean authors who are currently alive.

There are six contemporary Portuguese authors that I haven’t read any books by yet, but whose work I’m curious about. Many of their books appeal to me. Nevertheless, there is one book by each of them that I’m more eager to read than the others (I may always change my mind, though).

 

João Tordo

Born in 1975, João Tordo won the José Saramago Prize in 2009. Despite his relatively young age, he has close to twenty books published. His novels have been catching my attention for some time now, but I haven’t read one yet for reasons unknown. I plan to change that soon. I’ll probably start with Felicidade, whose main character is a 17-year-old teenage boy who feels trapped between two worlds. He falls in love with Felicidade, one of three identical twins, who are known as the Kopejka sisters, in 1973, a time when modernity and tradition are clashing. Continue reading