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El vendedor de pasados by Jose Eduardo…
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El vendedor de pasados (original 2004; edition 2009)

by Jose Eduardo Agualusa

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3212434,553 (3.91)78
Member:fvernalte
Title:El vendedor de pasados
Authors:Jose Eduardo Agualusa
Info:Destino (2009), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:Angola, independencia, sueños, pasado

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The Book of Chameleons by Jose Eduardo Agualusa (2004)

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» See also 78 mentions

English (20)  Dutch (3)  Spanish (1)  All languages (24)
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
This unusual book is narrated by a gecko who lives on the walls and ceilings of the home of Felix, an albino. Felix is in the business of providing new identities and backgrounds for people who have something to hide, or who otherwise wish to escape their past. The plot revolves around Jose, one of his customers, and Estella, a beautiful young woman with whom Felix begins a relationship, but who has had a troubled past. In the afterword, the author states that many of the gecko's memories are based on the life of Jorge Luis Borges. He describes the book as being about memory and its traps, and about the construction of our identities. I loved this thought, expressed by the gecko:

"Memory is a landscape watched from the window of a moving train...things happen before our very eyes, we know them to be real, but they're so far away we can't touch them. Some are so far, so very far away, and the train moving so fast, that we can't be sure any longer that they really did happen. Maybe we merely dreamed them?" ( )
  arubabookwoman | Feb 24, 2016 |
Having the narrator a little lizard was pretty clever - made an otherwise kind of confusing book enjoyable for me. I couldn't follow when folks were dreaming or making things up or what and probably wouldn't recommend it as a "must read" - I might have gotten more out of it had I been a member of a book group with other people to lend their opinions about what was actually going on in many chapters. ( )
  KathyGilbert | Jan 29, 2016 |
This is the story of Félix Ventura who sells memories and backgrounds to people who need a solid lineage to become fully realized in life, narrated by the gecko who makes its home in the shady cracks in the walls of Félix's house. Set in Luanda, Angola, right at the end of the civil war, the story is an interesting mix of politics and Borgesque fantasy, along with seriously original characters. It is a fairly thin book, consisting of a series of short vignettes, but its sum total is an engaging discourse on the nature of truth and lies and how a modified identity and memory could change the course of one's life. The narrator, Eulálio the gecko, is a sardonic observer of Félix's life, but his dreams are wistful views into his alternate, pre-gecko existence, which makes for one of the most interesting narrators I've read in a long while. Don't come looking for a chameleon to play a huge part - it's metaphorical - and the original title, O Vendedor de Passados, means "The Seller of Pasts" rather than having to do with anything lacertilian. Also, if you know your Jorge Luis Borges, you'll notice that the gecko and he has quite a lot in common... ( )
  -Eva- | Jan 1, 2015 |
i very much enjoyed this book. the translation was also excellent - i'm a sucker for beautifu and evocativel language and this delivered in spades. I adored the structure and characters, too. Just an all around excellent book. ( )
  tarshaan | Dec 10, 2014 |
The Book of Chameleons is a difficult book to describe, as it touches on many different elements. On the one hand, it’s a book set in present-day Angola – or present-day when the book was published, which is now almost a decade ago. So it gives a very good, realistic image of what the country is like. On the other hand, it’s a satire that enlarges the issues Angola struggles with to bring attention to it. Add in the fact that the book tells the story in a magical realism way and you’ve got a very unique piece of literature.

I do not want to spoil the story of this book by saying too much about it. It’s not a very long book, but it has quite an impact. The story flows very well and despite the sometimes abrupt shifts from chapter to chapter in events there was never a moment I felt lost as to what was happening. But what I love most of all is the main storyteller in this book. Absolutely brilliant choice. The only reason I did not give this book five stars is because of the ending. I was left with a few questions and I personally don’t like that. I understand this is how the author meant to end it, but I’m not convinced it was the best place to stop. If he’d stopped just one chapter before it would have been a better ending for me. But that’s a personal opinion and others may disagree. Either way, I highly recommend this book. ( )
  Samantha_kathy | Apr 27, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jose Eduardo Agualusaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lombard, CécileTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
If I were to be born again, I'd like to be something completely different. I'd quite like to be Norwegian. Or Persian, perhaps. Not Uruguayan, though - that'd feel too much like just moving down the street.
-Jorge Luis Borges
Dedication
First words
I was born in this house, and grew up here.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Literary fiction of the highest order, philosophical, but author manages to celebrate the corporeal side of human life at the same time.
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"Felix Ventura trades in an unusual commodity; he is a dealer in memories, clandestinely selling new pasts to people whose futures are secure and who lack only a good lineage to complete their lives. In this completely original murder mystery, where people are not who they seem and the briefest of connections leads to the forging of entirely new histories, a bookish albino, a beautiful woman, a mysterious foreigner, and a witty talking lizard come together to discover the truth of their lives. Set in Angola, Agualusa's tale darts from tormented past to dream-filled present with a lightness that belies the savage history of a country in which many have something to forget-and to hide." "A brilliant American debut by one of the most lauded writers in the Portuguese-speaking world, this is a beautifully written and always surprising tale of race, truth, and the transformative power of creativity."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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