Crítica de Anderson Tepper ao The Book of Chameleons, de José Eduardo Agualusa (trata-se da tradução de O Vendedor de Passados), na Time Out de Nova Iorque, desta semana:
«How to describe José Eduardo Agualusa, the young, award-winning Angolan author of The Book of Chameleons? An African Kafka? A more tropical Borges? Like the Mozambican writer Mia Couto, he blends elements of Latin American–style magic realism with political satire. He’s a genre-shifter, an iconoclast and one of the most inventive new voices coming from Africa today. Just consider this new novel: Narrated by a gecko, it’s a book of both energetic ideas and thrillerlike drama.
The main character, Félix Ventura, is a man very much in demand with Angola’s newly rich—the various “businessmen, ministers, landowners, diamond smugglers, generals” and others out to take advantage of the boom after decades of civil war. It’s his job to reinvent their personal histories and retouch their brutal pasts in order to brighten their future. His motto is “Give your children a better past,” and his career allows Agualusa to cleverly tease out the themes that drive the book: the elasticity of memory and history, and the power of personal and national identities to become self-perpetuating myths. Angola, “a fantasy country,” reimagines itself daily.
But don’t think for a moment this is an arid, overly cerebral text. The book springs to life in short, eccentric vignettes, mostly told from the ceiling-eye view of Eulalio, a gecko who appears to be the reincarnation of a famous, Borges-like writer. This lizard quietly watches as Felix becomes entangled with his nefarious clients, who include a mysterious photojournalist and a former government Marxist who now lives underground. Not surprisingly, none of them will be able to entirely transform themselves enough to escape the violent secrets of their pasts.»