ondjaki



“(...) Angola’s long history of colonialism and conflict, its various foreign allies and enemies, and the extraordinary suffering of its population, are menacingly present . . . a brave and highly political work.”


Times Literary Supplement


portuguese   |   spanish

 
 

ondjaki was born in Luanda (Angola), in 1977.

writes prose. poetry.


sometimes writes for cinema.

he has a documentary about his hometown “Luanda”. its called “Hope the pitanga cherries grow - tales of Luanda” (2006).

he is a member of União dos Escritores Angolanos (angolans writers union).

some of his books are translated into french, spanish, italian, german, english and chinese.


 




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transparent city is Angolan writer Ondjaki’s new novel. And it is new too in a few ways. It is his longest novel to date and his voice has a different quality.

Set in a building in Luanda’s Maianga neighborhood in the present, he’s shaken the nostalgia for the 1980s that is knit into his other works. All of the sweetness for his characters — their diction, their storytelling, their antics, their tragedies — is stronger than ever. This story gravitates around Odonato who, having fallen on hard times and worrying about whether he can provide for his family, stops eating. As the pain of hunger dissipates he notices that he is becoming transparent. Eventually, he gets lighter and lighter and his wife needs to tie him to the table, the bannister, and eventually onto the roof of the building.

As various characters in the building tangle with life in the city and their personal stories, the city’s own drama unfolds: underground prospecting for petroleum led by the state and the death of an epochal party figure. With a lightness of touch, Ondjaki has captured the intensity of Luanda’s present.


Marissa Moorman, in “http://africasacountry.com/winter-reading-list/”, 7/2013



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In a crumbling apartment block in the Angolan city of Luanda, families work, laugh, scheme, and get by. In the middle of it all is the melancholic Odonato, nostalgic for the country of his youth and searching for his lost son. As his hope drains away and as the city outside his doors changes beyond all recognition, Odo-nato’s flesh becomes transparent and his body increasingly weightless.

A captivating blend of magical realism, scathing political satire, tender comedy, and literary experimentation, Transparent City offers a gripping and joyful portrait of urban Africa quite unlike any before yet published in English, and places Ondjaki, indisputably, among the continent’s most accomplished writers.


A VANITY FAIR HOT TYPE BOOK FOR APRIL 2018
A GLOBE AND MAIL “WHAT’S HOT TO READ IN TRANSLATION” BOOK



“Vibrant…Ondjaki is experimentally bold, and his prose shifts through a kaledioscope of registers, from the poetic to the political, the erotic to the absurd…Stephen Henighan’s thoughtful translation has an energetic lyricism and is alive to the echoes and vestiges of the African languages that imbue Ondjaki’s text…The novel begins and ends with a raging inferno, and yet it is as full of hope, appetite and libidinal energy as it is of grief and mourning.” —Times Literary Supplement



“darkly pretty…peppered with poetry…These disparate stories are woven into a beautiful narrative that touches on government corruption, the privatization of water, the dangers of extracting oil for wealth, and the bastardization of religion for profit.. The novel reads like a love song to a tortured, desperately messed-up city that is undergoing remarkable transformations.”—Publishers Weekly



“A lively and invigorating novel…With Transparent City, Ondjaki takes his place among the great fabulists of the past century…so rich in heart, and so startlingly fresh in structure and delivery, [he] has gifted us with a contemporary masterpiece.” —Toronto Star



“The prose in which Ondjaki tells this story is deftly stylized, suggesting the hazy interconnections between the cast of this sprawling, stunning work. Over time, the plot threads begin to converge, and both the miraculous and the absurdist aspects take on tragic qualities as the novel reaches its stunning conclusion.” —Words Without Borders



“Ondjaki delivers playful magical realism with delightful defiance.” —The Barnes & Noble Review



“As with Ondjaki’s other novels—including Bom dia camaradas (2001; Good Morning Comrades) and Os Transparentes (2012)—this is a strangely deceptive read. Although the narrative often feels rather whimsical, Angola’s long history of colonialism and conflict, its various foreign allies and enemies, and the extraordinary suffering of its population, are menacingly present . . . a brave and highly political work.” —Times Literary Supplement





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O Assobiador (“The Whistler”)

There are some books that are surprising because they are so completely unexpected - not in their appearance, but in their method. O Assobiador (The Whistler) is such a book. As a product of Angola, a country riven by civil war and its after-effects for the past 30 years, a novel of such laughter and unmitigated hope comes as a welcome shock. (Richard Bartlett)

One October morning, while it is raining, a young man arrives at a small African village, with a church on one side and a smiling baobab tree on the other. He enters the church and starts whistling. The sound is so beautiful, that the priest is left in tears and the doves listen in absolute silence. And there are the people of the village, like the madman KaLua, the old widow Dona Rebenta in her large wooden bed, the gravedigger KoTimbalo, KeMunuMunu, the travelling salesman and Dissoxi, who fills her house with sea salt and longs for the ocean. For a whole week the reader accompanies these characters, their dreams and their longings, the village’s whisperings and gossiping. All are surrendered to the moods of these melodies. But the whistler himself is affected by the inhabitants of the village. His melodies can rouse happy or sad feelings. The priest announces that the following Sunday mass will be held with the whistler. On the Sunday he bewitches the priest and the people in the church to such an extent, that they fall in a state of trance and unimagined sensuality and zest for life. The mass is followed by an orgiastic celebration. On Monday the whistler and KeMunuMunu leave the village and the reader likewise bids his wistful farewell to a bewitching world.

 

Seldom before has a story of such joy and such hope come from a country of such tragedy and such sorrow.               


[Richard Bartlett, AFRICAN REVIEW OF BOOKS]

 



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Bom dia camaradas (“Good Morning, Comrades”)

is the loving memory of a childhood in Angola, around 1990. The young narrator, a keen observer, gives an uninhibited and humorous description of the small adventures of everyday life in a city marked by decades of civil war. Comrade Antonio, the young narrator asks the loyal African servant, don’t you think things are better now that the country is free? But comrade Antonio has good memories of the old days; a lot of things were better in the time of the white man. But things are slowly improving, much is happening at school, and at the end of term the beloved Cuban teachers, who are not exactly spoilt by wealth either, will take their leave, since the country will be able to look towards its future by itself.

Childhood is a former time that will always return, says the author. He depicts an Angolan childhood marked by all the country’s difficulties, but also by happiness. This is a book that will especially appeal to younger readers.



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Quantas madrugadas tem a noite (“How many Dawns has the Night”)

is also set in Luanda. Ondjaki again shows his talent as a story-teller. His figures come to life in the idiom of the oral tradition, with a wealth of word creations and allusions to the country’s regional languages. Provinciality and cosmopolitanism, new riches and abject poverty clash in a city that has arrived in the 21st century although still marked by decades of war and undergoing radical changes.






transparent city tour (  usa / canada 2018  )


__Sept 13, 2:30pm, at Rutgers University - Q&A, signing of TRANSPARENT CITY - [Dana room, 4th floor, John Cotton Dana Library; 185 University Av.]


__September 16: 11am, event at Brooklyn Book Festival - (Rhythm and Spirits. Whether in Parisian cemeteries, Jamaican clock towers, or echoes on the wind of Angola’s decrepit capital, spirits visit upon the living in these three vibrant, polyphonic novels. Ancestors are awakened and loss reverberates—in the solitary quests of Guadalupe Nettel’s After the Winter; the pulsating bass-lines of Marcia Douglas’s historical seance, The Marvellous Equations of the Dread; and the magical lyricism of Ondjaki’s love letter to a disappearing Luanda,Transparent City. Moderated by Anderson Tepper.)


__Sept 18, 12pm - Kelly Writers House (3805 Locust Walk), Q&A, signing & discuss TRANSPARENT CITY

__Sept 19, 12pm - Cherpack Lounge / Williams Hall (255 S 36th Street), with students (‘about Angola’)

__Sept 19, 4pm at the Penn Book Center, 130S 34th St, 19104, PHILLY — to read from and discuss TRANSPARENT CITY (https://web.facebook.com/events/1826260920774351),

__Sept 20, 1:30pm - Iron Gate Theater (3700 Chestnut Street) - performancethe sky doesn’t know how to dance alonewith tom kraines (cello) & ondjaki (improvisational live writing)


__Sept 21, 9:30pm-11:00pm, ForeWords; Shaw Performing Arts Centre (Manitoba Theatre for Young People) - 2 Forks Market Rd, Winnipeg

__Sept 22, 4pm, Unsettling our Stories, Shaw Performing Arts Centre, Winnipeg

__Sept 24, 12:30pm, Campus Program, Room 2M70 Manitoba Hall, University of Winnipeg - 515 Portage Ave, Winnipeg


__October 13: 1:15pm, event at Calgary WordFest

__October 14: 10am, event at Calgary WordFest - [Venue for both events: DJD Studios, 111 12 Ave SE]


__October 16: 8pm, event at Vancouver Writers Fest - [Revue Stage, 1601 Johnston St]

__October 17: 8pm, on-stage interview with Eleanor Wachtel to be recorded for the renowned CBC show Writers and Company - [Studio 1398, 1398 Cartwright St]

__October 18: Classroom visit for Simon Fraser University's World Literature Program in Vancouver - [Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Dr, Burnaby]


__October 20: 3:30pm, Lit on Tour panel in Windsor, ON - [School of Creative Arts, 37 University Ave E]

__October 23: An event with Stephen Henighan at the Bookshelf in Guelph - [Venue: The Bookshelf, 41 Quebec St]

__October 25: An event in Toronto with IFOA - at the Harbourfront Centre [Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W]

__October 26: Evening reading at Ottawa Writers Festival in Ottawa, ON - [Christ Church Cathedral, 414 Sparks St]