Our Musseque by Jose Luandino VieiraOur Musseque by Jose Luandino Vieira

Our Musseque

byJose Luandino VieiraTranslated byRobin Patterson

Paperback | August 1, 2016

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Our Musseque is a tale of growing up in one of the vibrant shanty towns (musseques) of Luanda during the 1940s and 1950s. Weaving back and forwards through his half-remembered childhood, the narrator draws us into a close-knit world of labourers, shopkeepers, drunks, prostitutes and determined women battling to bring up their families, as Angola hurtles towards the beginning of its armed struggle against Portuguese colonial rule. Meanwhile the children laugh, play, squabble and fight, puzzle at racial taunts and move rapidly through adolescence towards sexual awakening and a greater awareness of political realities around them. Written in prison in 1961-62 but not published until over 40 years later, the novel is shot through with a sense of nostalgia for the lost innocence of childhood and a community swept away by the encroaching city, together with the exhilaration, hopes and fears for what is about to come.
Title:Our MussequeFormat:PaperbackDimensions:188 pages, 18.25 × 5.25 × 0.75 inPublished:August 1, 2016Publisher:Dedalus LimitedLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1910213071

ISBN - 13:9781910213070

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When someone has a nickname, there's usually a reason. I always stuck to that simple fact whenever luck brought Zeca Buneu, Carmindinha and me together and we remembered Xoxombo. Tunica, too, was gone - life and her passion for rumbas and sambas had carried her away to Europe. A lost soul, said Mrs Domingas sadly. Life's a big thing and words can't change it, I said by way of an excuse. Carmindinha said nothing, keeping her opinions to herself, but we knew how much it hurt her to think about her sister.Sometimes we met in Mrs Domingas's house, when I was going out with Carmindinha. Zeca Buneu would stop by a bit later, calling for me with his usual whistle but always ending up by joining in the conversation. And before then, more times than I can remember, we'd sit with Mrs Domingas, already old and white haired, and Bento Abano,, still reading the newspaper without glasses, silently in his corner. We always talked about Xoxombo, even as the tears rolled down Mrs Domingas's wrinkled face. Carmindinha always told the same story about the boy's nickname, and she wouldn't hear of any other version. But Zeca Buneu, always the mischievous musseque boy and with his particular knack for telling things just the way he saw them, told the other story, the one all the other kids knew. My opinion on the subject didn't count. It's true that I liked watching Zeca tell the story the only way he knew how - hands waving wildly, screeches of laughter and exaggerated winks from those big eyes of his. But it was with tender love that I watched Carmindinha, warm, kind, sometimes angry, as she stuck up for her brother. It was only when Mrs Domingas began to weep at all the memories we'd dredged up and Bento started coughing in his cane chair that I'd interrupt. Not very helpfully, I confess. I only said what everyone was saying: when someone has a nickname there's usually a reason for it, and if everyone called Xoxombo the same thing, then there's no point going on and on about where it came from. Then the conversation would change. The sea, the islands and the winds came rushing in as Captain Bento began to speak. Mrs Domingas would go to the little cupboard and bring out some homemade liquor for everyone (corn beer for Zeca since that was the only thing he liked) and we all drank. Carmindinha sat sewing and I watched the captain and Zeca discussing the sea, only joining in when it came to talking about our newspaper or the ones the captain used to write for.

Editorial Reviews

" Funny, shocking and moving, it makes you nostalgic for a place you have never been." -- Ann Morgan, The Guardian