A General Theory of Oblivion by Jose Eduardo Agualusa (Man Booker International Prize Long List)

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“I was happy in this house, on those afternoons when the sun came into the kitchen to pay me a visit. I would sit down at the table. Phantom would come over and rest his head in my lap.

If I still had the space, charcoal, and available walls, I could compose a great work about forgetting: a general theory of oblivion.

I realize I have transformed the entire apartment into a huge book. After burning the library, after I have died, all that remains will be my voice.

In this house all the walls have my mouth.” p. 104

I thought this book would be more about one woman’s isolated life behind the walls of an apartment she had barricaded herself into, and less about the revolution in Angola.

I thought it would have more letters, memories, and scribblings which she had left on the apartment walls after living there for years and years in utter isolation.

I thought I would like reading about an introvert in the extreme, a person who disliked being outside at all.

Instead, there was much about trapping pigeons with rough diamonds, and political goings on.

Frankly, I didn’t like it. It is my least favorite of the long list so far. Find more thoughts, with a better plot summary, from 1st Reading.

A General Theory of Oblivion by Jose Eduardo Agualusa
Translated by Daniel Hahn
244 pages

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8 comments

  1. Oh, I would have liked reading about an extreme introvert trapped inside her walls, also! Too bad it didn’t deliver the story you were hoping for. I do love the quotes.

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    1. For some reason, I’m just not all that enamored by novels with political uprisings. Les Miserables excluded. What interests me the most is character development, and atmosphere, and these just weren’t present for me in this novel. Glad I’m not alone in wanting to read about those who like to be alone! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the link – I think you liked it even less than I did, though I came at it with fairly low expectations given I hadn’t liked The Book of Chameleons which won the IFFP in 2007.

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