NOMINATED FOR THE 2019 BEST TRANSLATED BOOK AWARD
A VANITY FAIR HOT TYPE BOOK FOR APRIL 2018
A VULTURE MUST-READ TRANSLATED BOOK FROM THE PAST 5 YEARS
A GLOBE AND MAIL BEST BOOK OF 2018
A LIT HUB FAVOURITE BOOK OF THE YEAR
A WORLD LITERATURE TODAY NOTABLE TRANSLATION OF 2018
In a crumbling apartment block in the Angolan city of Luanda, families work, laugh, scheme, and get by. In the middle of it all is the melancholic Odonato, nostalgic for the country of his youth and searching for his lost son. As his hope drains away and as the city outside his doors changes beyond all recognition, Odonato’s flesh becomes transparent and his body increasingly weightless. A captivating blend of magical realism, scathing political satire, tender comedy, and literary experimentation, Transparent City offers a gripping and joyful portrait of urban Africa quite unlike any before yet published in English, and places Ondjaki, indisputably, among the continent’s most accomplished writers.
Ondjaki shares intertwining stories set in his hometown, Luanda, the Angolan capital, in this darkly pretty novel that begins and ends with a fire that devastates the city and is peppered with poetry and asides. A disappearing man "hopelessly in love with another time" laments the relationship he used to have with his city; a seashell seller falls in love; a mailman tries to acquire a moped; a young boy searches for his missing mother; a journalist attempts to assassinate the president; a shyster starts an artistic movement; a visiting scientist becomes enthralled by an albino cockroach. These disparate stories are woven into a beautiful narrative that touches on government corruption, the privatization of water, the dangers of extracting oil for wealth, and the bastardization of religion for profit.. The novel reads like a love song to a tortured, desperately messed-up city that is undergoing remarkable transformations.