General Theory of Oblivion by Jose Eduardo Agualusa

imageLudo has never liked to be outside, she stays inside and cooks and cleans for her sister and her husband. So the build up to Angolan Independence largely passes her by. When neither returns home on the eve of Angolan independence, she bricks herself into her apartment. She stays there for the next thirty years, living off vegetables and pigeons and  writing her story on the walls of her home.

Meanwhile life in Angola moves on.  A variety of characters take the spotlight and their stories touch Ludo’s. There is a communist private detective, a reporter investigating the mysterious disappearances of airplanes and people, a Portuguese mercenary who survives a firing squad, and a nine-year-old boy who eventually climbs some scaffolding and moves in with Ludo.

It is an unusual book when you consider that it is really about the impact of great passions and yet it’s tone is quite muffled and distant. It’s quite clever, it is reminiscent of the sense of shock and disbelief after such events that leaves people feeling disconnected and drained. Many people put their heads down and focus on small areas after huge events, as I write this I’m still reeling from the aftershocks of the vote on the EU referendum and in the light of that I can see the authenticity of this book.

Life goes on, we find a way, we may have to go inwards and focus on the minutiae of daily life. But we keep breathing.

5 Bites

NB I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in return for an honest review. The BookEaters always write honest reviews

I was reading before I started school and I have no plans to stop now! I usually have at least two books on the go at once, one non-fiction and one fiction. I like reading books based in reality that flick open the doors to the mysteries of the heart or of the spirit.