The book of Chameleons

Book: The Book of Chameleons- José Eduardo Agualusa
Around the World:
how obtained: kindle version ~$5


 

Angola is a south western African nation. It was under Portuguese rule from the mid-1600s until Independence in 1975. There was then 27 years of civil war, ending only in 2002. The book of Chameleons is set shortly after this, in the house of Felix Ventura, and albino man who collects books, and sells new pasts to people who don’t like their own history. The narrator is a laughing chameleon, a friendly companion to Felix, who sometimes ends up in his dreams in a human form.

A mysterious man shows up for a new past. And then he keeps showing up, to ask more details about his family and childhood- as if he actually believed Felix that the made up story was all true. The man becomes obsessed with a man living in the sewers. A woman becomes Felix’s love interest. And somehow, the real history of these people comes out amongst the made up fantasies, and purposeful misremembering.

I really enjoyed this book- it has been one of my favourites so far. It is fairly short (~3hr read), with chapters only a couple pages at times. The narrator is pleasant, intelligent and rather straightforward in descriptions for a lizard, but with a few odd perspectives and dream sequences thrown in. The story line is gentle- there is a climax, and some dark happening in the past are discussed, but it is never depressing or angst provoking. Suitable for when you are in the mood for learning and growing, and also for when relaxing on a holiday- this book is suitable for most people in most situations.

 

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