Pepetela

Angola

© Jorge Nogueira

 

Pepetela, born in Benguela in 1941, is one of Angola’s leading novelists. Distinguished by his consummate ability to combine personal and political elements within a historical context, he was awarded the Prémio Camões and the Prémio Nacional de Cultura e Artes. He occupied a leading position in the fight against Portugal’s colonialism and was a member of the first government after independence. Pepetela lives in Luanda.

 

Heitor has always been shy, and when his latest girlfriend dumps him, he rents a run-down hut on the outskirts of Luanda to heal his broken heart. Listening to a particular radio programme, Heitor soon becomes addicted to the charming voice of its presenter Marisa. Through fate, they meet and fall in love. But Marisa is married… Featuring quirky and loveable characters, O tímido e as mulheres ("The Shy One and the Women") is not only a love story but also an entertaining portrait of today’s Luanda.

 

Set in the heart of Africa at the beginning of the 17th century, Pepetela’s novel À Sul. O Sombreiro (“In the South. The Sombreiro”) is full of adventure, political intrigues and magical elements. While the ruthless governor Cerveira founds the town of Benguela, the black native Carlos Rocha flees to the Savannah and stays with one of Africa’s fiercest warrior tribes to avoid a terrible fate.

 

Pepetela is an author who creates irony as if by magic.

Ler

 

The right book for anyone who wants to leave everyday life behind and find themselves in a different space and time.

Jornal de Letras

 

O Planalto e a Estepe ("The Highlands and the Steppes") tells a true story of great passion and suffering, scarred by a love nourished by hope and waiting. When Júlio is sent from Angola to Portugal to study medicine, he gets involved in clandestine communist cells. In Moscow, he falls in love with the Mongolian girl Sarangerel. But politics and tradition conspire against them, and Sarangerel is taken back to Mongolia. Will they ever meet again?

 

A journey in time and space, a journey of a generation tired of war in a world that is getting smaller every day.

Jornal de Letras

 

After this successful foray into crime fiction, Pepetela returns with the ambitious and powerful novel Os predadores (“The Predators”) that attempts to get to the heart of Angola's tragic recent history. The novel ostensibly revolves around the character of Vladimiro Caposso, an unscrupulous and opportunistic businessman, charting his rise and fall over the last thirty years.

Going back to the last days of Portuguese colonial rule, we find Caposso aged 18, working in a colonist's grocer's store.  When the Portuguese leave, he takes over the store and begins his rise to wealth and power first through the heady days of the transition to independence, then becoming a corrupt bureaucrat as Angola joins the Soviet bloc, and onwards as an entrepreneur into the unrestrained capitalism and social upheaval of the 1990s, the civil war ever simmering in the background.

The action stretches from tribal herdsmen's villages seemingly untouched by civilisation, through Luanda's decaying urban sprawl, to life on campus in the United States for an Angolan exchange student. Caposso is the link that binds these disparate worlds together, his actions impacting on the lives of every one of the characters.

Following the strongly-drawn characters from the shanty towns to the mansions of the nouveau-riche with an engrossing plot, passionately written and keen to explain, there is no more readable introduction to Angola and its recent past.

 

In Jaime Bunda, agente secreto (“Jaime Bunda, Secret Agent”), the author has chosen the fat, unlucky trainee at Luanda’s secret police, as the protagonist of a crime story set in Luanda, where it is easier to find a Kalashnikov than an honest official. Jaime Bunda becomes a credible guide on an anything but touristy trail through the city of Luanda. He appears again in the following novel, Jaime Bunda e a morte do americano (“Jaime Bunda and the Death of the American”). Now he has to clear up the murder of an American engineer. Pepetela pokes fun at the Americans for their seemingly pathological anxiety of terror attacks as well as mocking the antiamericanism of the Angolans. The tensions within this country, which lives in constant political insecurity since its independence, are continuously present in Pepetela’s work.

 

 

Pepetela’s career as a writer started during the war for independence, when he wrote his first novel, Mayombe, published in 1980, in which he describes the conflicts in Angola’s fight for liberation.

His novels are mainly set against the backdrop of important historical events during almost a century of Angolan history. An essential theme of his work is the greatness and strength of past cultures still existing in modern Angola.

The ironical, merciless portrait of the country’s capital Luanda in O desejo de Kianda (“Kianda’s Desire”) shows a post-colonial Angola worn down and devastated by four decades of colonial and civil war. Geração da utopia (“The Generation of a Utopia”) provides a unique vision of the author’s own generation, its dreams of independence, its fights and victories, despair and hope.

 

O desejo de Kianda is perhaps the most clear-sighted and sober book by Pepetela, one of the best writers of the post-colonial generation. Pepetela succeeds in telling a wonderful tale of political corruption which is also a chronicle of the naked truth about the constant deterioration of living conditions in Angola.

EL PAÍS

 

 

For further information, please also visit:

www.pepetela.com.pt

 

 

Rights:

 

Novels (selection):

 

O tímido e as mulheres

Lisbon: Dom Quixote 2013, 304 p.

Brazil: Leya 2014

 

 

À Sul. O Sombreiro

Lisbon: Dom Quixote 2011, 360 p.

Brazil: Leya 2011

 

O Planalto e a Estepe, Lisbon: Dom Quixote 2009, 190 p.

Brazil: Leya 2009 Estonia: Loomingu Raamatukogu 2013

 

O quase fim do mundo, Lisbon: Dom Quixote 2008, 384 p.

Brazil: Leya 2008

 

O Terrorista de Berkeley, Califórnia, Lisbon: Dom Quixote 2007, 115 p.

Cuba: Arte y Literatura 2012

 

Predadores, Lisbon: Dom Quixote 2005, 382 p.

Argentina: EUDEBA Brazil: Leya 2007 Bulgaria: Five Plus 2009 Netherlands: De Geus 2008

 

Jaime Bunda e a morte do americano, Lisbon: Dom Quixote 2003, 277 p.       

Brazil: Leya 2007 Cuba: Arte y Literatura 2011 France: Buchet Chastel

 

Jaime Bunda, agente secreto, Lisbon: Dom Quixote 2001, 312 p.

Brazil: Record 2003, Leya 2007 Cuba: Arte y Literatura 2010 Denmark: Hjulet 2002 France: Buchet Chastel 2005 German: Unionsverlag 2004, pb 2006 Italy: Edizioni E/O 2006 Mexico: Elefanta (several Latin American countries) Poland: Claroscuro 2010 Sweden: Panta Rei 2011 UK: Aflame 2006

 

A montanha da água lilás, Lisbon: Dom Quixote 2000, 164 p.

Italy: Sette Città

 

A gloriosa família, Lisbon: Dom Quixote 1997, 406 p.

Brazil: Nova Fronteira 1999, Leya 2007 Netherlands: Meulenhoff 2001 Norway: Cappelen 2006 Spain: Texto Editores 2006

 

Parábola do cágado velho, Lisbon: Dom Quixote 1996, 183 p.

Brazil: Nova Fronteira 2005, Leya 2011 Italy: Besa 2000 Norway: Cappelen 2003 Spain: Alianza 1999, Al otro lado Sweden: Tranan 2000

 

O desejo de Kianda, Lisbon: Dom Quixote 1995, 119 p.

Brazil: Leya 2007 Finland: Helsinki University Press 2001 France: Actes Sud 2002 Greece: Kritiki 2001 Israel: Kinneret 2011 Italy: Lavoro 2010 Netherlands: De Geus 2011 Spain: Alianza 1999 UK:Heinemann 2002

 

A geração da utopia, Lisbon: Dom Quixote 1992, 316 p.           

Brazil: Nova Fronteira 2000, Leya 2011 Italy: Diabasis 2009 Spain: Txalaparta 2003

 

Yaka, Lisbon: Dom Quixote 1985, 395 p.

Belgium: Éperonniers 1992, ADEN (French) Germany: Volk und Welt 1988 UK: Heinemann 1996

 

O cão e os Caluandas, Lisbon: Dom Quixote 1985, 186 p.

Brazil: Leya 2007 Finland: Like 1991 Germany: Ed. Südliches Afrika 1986 Italy: Felici Sweden: Tranan 2005

 

A revolta da casa dos ídolos (theatre), Lisbon: Edições 70, 1980, 157 p.

 

Mayombe, Lisbon: Dom Quixote 1980, 288 p.

Brazil: Leya 2007  Chile: LOM  Germany: Volk und Welt 1983, Ed. Südliches Afrika 1985 Italy:Lavoro 1989 (avail.) 

Japan: Ryokuchisha 1993 Spain: Txalaparta 1991, Ed. 62 (Catalan) 2010 UK: Heinemann 1994

 

As aventuras de Ngunga, Lisbon: Edições 70 1977, 128 p., Dom Quixote 2002

Angola: UEA 1977 Brazil: Ática 1980 Cuba: Gente Nueva 2010 Germany: Der Kinderbuch Verlag 1981 Russia: Khudozhestvenaia 1977 Spain: Txalaparta 1997 Spain (Basque): Txalaparta 1966 Sweden: Afrikagrupperna i Sverige 1983 South Africa: MangalaniUK: Writers and Readers Publ. Coop. 1980 Uruguay: Livros del Artillero, 1986

 

 

 

Stories:

 

Crónicas com Fundo de Guerra, Lisbon: Ed. Nelson de Matos 2011, 216 p.

 

Contos de Morte, Lisbon: Ed. Nelson de Matos 2008, 94 p.