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Yaka [Paperback]

Pepetela , Marga Holness
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Paperback, April 1996 --  
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Book Description

April 1996 0435909622 978-0435909628

Yaka gives a panoramic view of the events that shaped Angola from 1890 through the next century as reflected in the life of the Semedo family. From the nineteenth century penal colony, through slavery, African uprisings, and land expropriation, Yaka charts the formation of a nation. Alexandre Semedo's father, convicted of murder, is transported from Portugal to Angola at the turn of the century. As time passes, the Semedo family becomes increasingly intertwined with Black Angola. Alexandre begins to see why the enigmatic Yaka statue, which he inherited from his father, is a symbol for his country.


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From Publishers Weekly

Most contemporary African fiction known in the West is written in English: Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka and South African novelist Nadine Gordimer come to mind. Fiction in translation from non-English-speaking Africa, however, is scarce. For its attempt to bridge that gap, Heinemann is to be commended. Pepetela, nom de plume and nom de guerre of Angolan writer Arthur Carlos Mauricio Pesta?a, also deserves a nod for this richly detailed recounting of Angolan history (1890-1975) through the saga of the Semedo family. A Portuguese colony from the 15th century, Angola was the only African country used as a penal settlement. Portuguese-born residents were officially "first-class" whites; Angolan-born whites were given second- or third-class status. Their intermingling with Africans created a unique population mix. Against this background, Angolan-born Alexandre Semedo, a convict's son, seeks his identity. Over his lifetime, lives of black Africans and whites increasingly commingle, the two peoples uniting eventually to fight first for independence then against a new invader, South Africa. The novel promises but never delivers-the pace is slow; the characters creepy and largely unsympathetic, the transitions from first to second person are confusing, and the literary device of Alexandre's Yaka warrior statue as knowing observer throughout the epic is poorly woven into the narrative. It rather makes one wonder if this 1986 winner of Angola's National Prize for Literature didn't lose something in translation.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Pepetela is the nom de plume and nom de guerre of Artur Carlos Mauricio Pestana. Born in Benguela in 1941, he went to Portugal in 1958 to study engineering. Four years later he went to France and then to Algeria, where he studied sociology and was involved in founding the Centre of Angolan Studies. In the late 1960s he was sent to the Cabinda front and took part in the guerrilla war against the colonial army. He was a member of the first MPLA delegation to fly into Angola at the end of the war for independence. Among other responsibilities, Pepetela has been Deputy Minister of Education and a leading member of the Angolan Writers' Union. Pepetela is the author of many novels including Yaka (1984), which won Angola's National Literature Prize in 1986. The novels Yaka and Mayombe (1980) are also published in Heinemann's African Writers Series. O Desejo de Kianda (The Return of the Water Spirit) was first published in 1995. In 1997 Pepetela was awarded the Camoes Prize, which is the most prestigious literary award in the Portuguese-speaking world.

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By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This translation of Pepetela's Portuguese-original is marvellous. The story encompasses the beauty of Angola coupled with the tragedy of its history and the complex relationship of the Portuguese on the land. It is superbly written. The skill of the story and the language makes you want to eat up the pages in one setting. I would recommend it to any lover of novels or any lover of Angola. What a shame that more of Pepetela's work has not been translated.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A marvellous journey through a tragic and confusing history Aug. 19 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This translation of Pepetela's Portuguese-original is marvellous. The story encompasses the beauty of Angola coupled with the tragedy of its history and the complex relationship of the Portuguese on the land. It is superbly written. The skill of the story and the language makes you want to eat up the pages in one setting. I would recommend it to any lover of novels or any lover of Angola. What a shame that more of Pepetela's work has not been translated.
4.0 out of 5 stars The review Dec 10 2004
By belle lis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
it was avery informatice book. good for people interest in the rpoblems of Africa or a view into what it is really like.
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