Breathtaking, beautiful & underrated.
I came across this book by chance in the library, only picking it up because I have a particular interest in lizards. I took it home only because its narrator is a gecko. Somehow, the book avoids turning it’s reptilian narrator into a gimmick. It is, instead, an unusual and helpful point of view, with the gecko becoming a character in his own right. I knew I had to have my own copy.
This was a lot of firsts for me. Certainly the first book I’ve read narrated by a lizard, but also my first book set in Angola, my first book with an albino narrator, and my first book translated from Portuguese.
Félix is an interesting man, flawed and shrouded in an intricately constructed history, barely aware of which of his memories are real and which are figments of his vivid imagination, dreamt up long ago and now only a step away from reality. He is ready to believe anything, and it’s this trait that carries so much of the wonder and mystery in the book.
With beautiful descriptions, with stunning metaphor, I was carried through this book barely touching the ground. It doesn’t read like a murder-mystery, or even particularly like a plot-driven story. This book is one long dream. We have Félix. We have the foreigner, living a past he paid to have designed. We have Ângela Lúcia, collector of light not only in her art but in her body, in her very existence.
This book is scattered with snapshots of Angolan history, praise and love for authors and fictional worlds, philosophy on memory and truth, and lines that left me breathless.