José Eduardo Agualusas novel The Book of Chameleons won praise worldwide for its sinuous intertwining of memory and fabrication. His latest, Rainy Season, maintains the standard set by the earlier book. (...)
This is a book which takes the blood-soaked history of a country and, through love of its people, transfigures that history in the telling. Rainy Season is a luminous, haunting novel that will live long in the memory.
As an appendix, Daniel Hahn has written an illuminating diary of the process of the books translation. Both for this spellbinding evocation of the translators craft, and for his elegant and pellucid translation, he deserves credit.
PW - New Internationaliste
Imagine Boris Pasternak's Dr Zhivago transplanted to tropical Africa, chopped up into glittering, bloodstained fragments and set to dance to a delirious rumba. Then you might begin to take the measure of this novel of a revolution that devours its children.
Rainy Season, first published in Portuguese in 1996,(...)tender and terrifying by turns, shows how a heroic artists' and thinkers' revolt fragments into internecine suspicion, conflict and cruelty.(...)
As The Book of Chameleons and his other works so amply prove, Agualusa has a touch and tone of such lyrical and rhythmic grace that it can make the worst horrors almost bearable. Again, Daniel Hahn translates this lissom, glancing style with all the panache and delicacy that it requires.(...)
But this urgent, anguished novel arrives at no real closure or conciliation. Perhaps, at the time of its writing, Agualusa could hardly envisage any sense of an ending for the stories of this messily protracted war. Here the fires of revolution, so ferociously depicted, almost burn up his book.
Boyd Tonkin - The Independent
(...)Angolan author José Eduardo Agualusa's excellent novel, Rainy Season, follows the parallel story of the poet Lídia do Carmo Ferreira and the lengthy and violent Angolan civil war following its declaration of independence from Portugal.(...)José Eduardo Agualusa, however, has not created a straight-forward, linear war novel. No, Rainy Season is greater than that, though its style adds to the confusion of both Lídia's disappearance and the all-encroaching civil war.(...)
Rainy Season does not require familiarity with Angolan history, but it would be remiss to mention that any knowledge at all would of course help.(...)Happily Daniel Hahn, as well as displaying excellent qualities as a translator, has included a brief glossary that helps with some of the trickier acronyms and situations.(...)Included at the back of the book is a sixty-or-so page blog diary detailing the ups and downs of the translation process. The blog is fascinating, and provides both an interesting insight to the difficulties of translation (...) but also an increased level of information into the history and customs of Angola.(...)Violence and literature comes together, and stays together, in a manner familiar to readers of Chilean author Roberto Bolaño. Though of course not the same, the two authors share, in this novel at least, a certain sense that the personality of a nation comes from its most terrible acts and its greatest literary achievements.(...)
Damian Kelleher - Damian Kelleher - Literary reviews and essays