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A Varanda do Frangipani

Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. A Varanda do Frangipani by Mia Couto. Nicolau, onde funciona um asilo para velhos. Para tanto, precisa “remorrer”. Da sua varanda se rrangipani enxergar o horizonte. Board bookpages. Published by Companhia das Letras first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

A Varanda do Frangipani : Mia Couto :

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Lists with This Book. A good dose of magic realism African style, varand in post colonial Mozambique. They all readily confess to the A good dose of magic realism African style, set in post colonial Mozambique.

They all readily confess to the crime. There is magic, talking animals, the dead are all around and the whole story is rather surreal and chronology is pleasingly loose. It is a pleasing mix of thriller and parable which explores the spirit world and old beliefs and traditions. There is a message to the old colonial masters in the frontnote; “You will never rule this land”. Short, sharp and remarkable. And now for something completely different It is daft, but I shall attempt to outline briefly the plot of this phantasmagorical tale that makes the most ardent proponents of magical realism seem like champions of formal nineteenth-century European literary naturalism in comparison.

Most simplistically, one can view this novel as a “whodunit. Naita has been sent to investigate the murder of the local administrator, a man of brutal temperment, lascivious behavior, and corrupt practices. In the words of Mark Twain’s memorable Luigi Capello, “he needs killing. The young officer is baffled and, as his time for departure nears, he is warned that his own impending death has been foretold. Alas, as one of the elderly suspects suggests to Naita, “the crime that’s been committed here isn’t the one you’re trying to solve.

Instead we are introduced to a cosmology that astounds and befuddles not only the detective but the reader as well. To begin with, before his arrival a most unhappy ghostly soul buried near the fort’s frangipani tree is set to inhabit with franglpani assistance of a wise anteater Naita’s body and share his adventure. Meanwhile, the small and barely still alive population of the site with names like Little Miss No and the Old Gaffer await the policeman so that they can regale him with magical tales and fill their confessions with all the spirits and incredible happenings of their unseen world.

Their stories reveal aspects of African religious and philosophical belief systems, but to the Western-trained Naita they seem irrational. Can these seemingly fanciful accounts provide any answers or are they merely the ravings of those suffering from senile dementia? Couto’s guiless prose which reads well in this English translation should not fool us about the complexity of this book.


The author offers vivid descriptions of the region’s traditional beliefs and symbols. Moreover, Couto demonstrates a sympathetic understanding of the African connection between humans and animals in the context of their environment as well as a perceptive sensibility to the conflict between custom embodied by the elders and the forces of modernity represented by Naita and the contemporary political regime.

In fact, the volume reveals much about corruption by both the earlier Portuguese colonizers and their currrent revolutionary African frwngipani. Like truth, the answer is never simply black nor white. One must continue searching for it, sifting through and unearthing the lies that reveal what is true. There are profound insights offered within this work’s sometimes whimsical and comical assertions and ethereal descriptions. Possibly, however, because this is a translation, the voices of dk characters sound remarkably alike and undifferentiated.

Moreover, the use of the ftangipani of magical realism in this novel seems less integrated with thematic elements than is varandaa with such practitioners as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Toni Morrison, Isabel Allende, or Salman Rushdie. Nonetheless, there is much to appreciate with Mia Couto, who is, by the way, male, a Mozambican of European descent, and a biologist by training and profession. Like this book, nothing is quite what it appears to be. View all 10 comments.

Under the Frangipani Portuguese Title: It was actually a pages novella filled with magical realism or to be more precise animist realism, an African sub-category of magical realism.

Animism is the vadanda that non-human entities—such as animals, plants, and inanimate objects—possess a spiritual essence. It has a similar smell with jasmine but it has a more intense fragrance. From the first sentence of the book you are taken by surprise: If I had a cross or a slab of marble, the name Ermelindo Mucanga would feature on it.

But I passed away along with my varada nearly two decades ago. A spirit in the form of halakavuma see photo belowtells him that he Ermelindo will possess the mind of a young police officer who arrived at this fort by the sea to investigate a murder. The people at the fort are all old and puzzling.

A man-child cursed to grow old at the moment he was born, a witch that turns into water, a young nurse that sleeps stark naked in order to absorb the smell and the energy of the earth and many more.

So you understand this is not just magical animist realism but also something more, magical, and also political. The magical dominates the novel with spirits, shadows, a storm-serpent, a bottomless void, and more.

The political is more subtle, it is somehow a protest against Portuguese colonialism in Mozambique. But what makes this novel la beautiful is the language. It is poetic and magical. Apr 02, Clarissa Mendes rated it really liked it.

Esperava sentir mais pelas personagens, mais do que a mera vxranda sobre elas. I just didn’t quite get it.

But I didn’t really get the point, or half the book. We start with varranda protagonist who is buried under a Frangipani tree. But he is about to get honoured by the state as a hero against the colonialists, so decides he has to leave this old fort he died at while building, in order to get some sense of self back.

We end up with a lot of old people, who are apparently locked up in this old fort, rambling and telling stories. I just don’t really know what was going on.


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A story about the pain and lost identity of a nation, about its dreams, superstitions and hopes, all narrated in a surreal note. No asilo de S. Nicolau, a varanda que ficava defronte para a frangipaneira era um ponto principal. I do think there’s doo depth there, but I’m not completely sure that I even made it far below the surface. Though I’d give it just 3 stars right now, I think this is one that could age better with rereading now that I understand where the storytelling is leadingthe experience frangopani richer with a revisit down the road Dec 18, varansa librorum: It’s short but I still found it a challenge to get through.

Probably read it too disjointedly and it would have flown a bit better. I did enjoy Couto’s lyrical language but I feel like there was a lot of symbolism that I missed and thus it ended up being a rather shallow read for me. View all 4 comments.

Finally, a book that is truly different from previous experiences, a book that is unusual without varsnda impossible to read, a new friend to begin a new year.

Desafortunadamente, Elefanta no tiene buen cuidado editorial: Lucrurile, in schimb, ni se dezvaluie. But condensed in its little more than pages is an impressive narrative of a revolution betrayed as centered on the investigation of the death of Excellency Vatsome, Mozambique revolutionary war veteran turned sanatorium director and secret arms dealer.

Lurking everywhere in Under the Frangipani are the shadows of the Mozambique war of national liberation against Portuguese repression and its traumatic realities. A genuine revolution is supposed to be waged for the people. It seeks to institute radical social changes to empower the greater majority of peasants and workers. But what if it fails to pursue its original aims after completing the seizure of power from the oppressors?

After all, the danger of mobilizing for war but without the adequate political and ideological education tends to breed a one-sided military mentality that fails to consider the political equation. And all the worse if the struggle for national liberation takes the capitalist road after overthrowing the yoke of colonialism instead of pursuing a socialist perspective.

He had given the best years of his life to the revolution. What was there left of that utopia? But we know all of this only by the end of the novel. Steeped in African oral tradition and deploying that folksy storytelling style familiar to all cultures, the novel is in the main about the life of Vatsome Excellency and his murder as uncovered by the investigation conducted by a police detective.

No ordinary detective spiel, the narrative is seen from a different vantage point. Under the frangipani in the terrace of the former Portuguese tradepost is where the dead soul of the narrator resided.

This colonial fort turned jail for Mozambique revolutionaries turned sanotarium for the elderly after the war and of which Vatsome is director is the setting of the novel. Interspersed in the narrative are chapters that unravel the tales of the confessors, residents of the sanotarium who all claim that they killed Excellency Vatsome: