ondjaki


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.


 

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.



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Os Transparentes 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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