- Paperback: 176 pages
- Publisher: New Directions (June 29 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0811215652
- ISBN-13: 978-0811215657
- Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.3 x 20.3 cm
- Shipping Weight: 159 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #136,538 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Last Will and Testament of Senor Da Silva Paperback – Jun 29 2004
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"Germano Almeida uses a very sophisticated, humorous, but at the same time melancholic style [and] offers a miniscule inventory of daily life, of social conventions and habits of Cape Verde....Like the singer Cesaria Evora the work of Germano Almeida surprises us with the essential richness of his world and its proximity and vigor."
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The story, particularly in the beginning describing the funeral, is extremely funny in its way. The book is also notable for showing how various people's perceptions of the same events can be so different as to be come almost unrecognizable. Araujo's nephew, for instance, through his eyes is a slimy, arrogant, deceitful Uriah Heep type character, but his newfound cousin Maria de Graca sees him as a likable enough man (holding no grudge against her, although he had expected to inherit and she got it all instead), and they become friendly with each other.
Normally I can't stand overlong paragraphs and run-on sentences in books, and this book had plenty of both, but for some reason I didn't mind this time. I didn't think I would enjoy reading this nearly as much as I did, and I wish I could seek out the author's other novels, but none of them have been translated into English and I can't read Portuguese.
Araujo very easily stands for Cabo Verde itself. His solitude, methodical manners, controlled and reclusive life keep him insulated from the town. Even after becoming a very successful business man he was still rejected by the local club. The void around his life is sensed everywhere. But when dies, and his will detailing his adventures is read, we and his neighbors and acquaintances discover that his life within was different, very different. Richer in excitement. Fuller in emotions. He lived indeed as an island, isolated, no one knew the Napumoceno within.
In an interview given to Fernando Nunes of "ZonaNon: revista de cultura crítica", in 2003, Germano Almeida described the independence Cabo Verde in 1975, as having been a "true revolution" causing an unbelievable growth from 1975 to 1990 that had not been foreseen and certainly had surpassed expectations. The country grew at a much higher rate than in the 500 years Cabo Verde was Portugal's colony. This exultation about Cabo Verde's inner potential, inner abilities, is akin to those we discover in Araujo's world. Richer than expected, even though no one believed it or could imagine it.
But this is not a political book. This is not a historical book. This is the portrait of a man in his complexity, someone like our neighbors, like our friends and family. People we believe we know, who all of a sudden, unexpectedly, show a different side that had only been lived and carried on within.
Germano Almeida received in 2005 the award -- Fundação Casa da Cultura de Língua Portuguesa -- an award given every two years to distinguish personalities or institutions that have notably promoted Portuguese Speaking Cultures in the world. The award was established in 1990, by Oporto University.
The story is told mostly through Napumoceno's eyes, relating the events of his life as he wrote about them. We also see Maria, his secret illegitimate daughter, as she learns about the man she never knew was her father and befriends the nephew who'd assumed himself to be the heir. There is not any strong plotline to provide an organizing principle for these reminisces. The translation is fluid, though the writing isn't always as clear as it could be. The characters get some development but never really grabbed me, though there are a couple of good scenes. The writing is not especially visual, but does provide some sense of the society in Cape Verde in the middle decades of the twentieth century.
One particular episode bears mentioning. Maria is the daughter of Napumoceno's one-time cleaning lady, who one day happens to be wearing a skirt in Napumoceno's favorite color. Unable to restrain himself, he pounces on and rapes her, despite her resistance. (I couldn't make this stuff up, y'all.) She's not happy, but by the next day she is totally over it, and they then have a "consensual" relationship. I have to say, I am having trouble thinking of anything grosser in literature than books by men portraying women who don't mind being raped.
So, though the opening initially grabbed me, I can't recommend this one. On to something better, and good riddance to it.