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