- 85,00 kr
Alentejo Blue is the story of the Portuguese village of Mamarrosa told through the lives of those who live there and those who are passing through - men and women, children and old people, locals, tourists and expatriates.
For some, such as Teresa, a beautiful, dreamy village girl, it is a place from which to escape; for others - the dysfunctional Potts family - it is a way of running from trouble (but not eluding it). Vasco, a café owner who has never recovered from the death of his American wife, clings to a notion that his years in America make him superior to the other villagers. One English tourist makes Mamarrosa the subject of her fantasy of a new life, while for her compatriots, a young engaged couple, Mamarrosa is where their dreams finally fall apart.
At the book's opening an old man reflects on his long and troubled life in this beautiful and seemingly tranquil setting, and anticipates the return of Marco Afonso Rodrigues, the prodigal son of the village and a symbol of this now fast-changing world. The homecoming is the subject of continuing speculation, and when Marco Afonso Rodrigues does finally appear, villagers, tourists and expatriates are brought together and jealousies, passions and disappointments must inevitably collide.
Ali's 2003 debut, Brick Lane, was a brilliant family saga told largely from within a Bangladeshi woman's apartment on London's ramshackle East End. Ali, who was born in Dhaka and grew up in London, sets her sophomore effort in a similarly struggling community, the rural Alentejo region of Portugal, where cork prices are falling, the region is still healing after the brutal Salazar regime and the locals don't quite care to cater to tourists. But where Brick Lane was quietly symphonic, this blues-like novel is more of a dirge: Jo o, in old age, comes upon his old friend (and sometime lover), Rui, hanging from a tree, his Communist dreams dashed; the English Potts family scrapes by as indolents-in-exile; the writer Stanton, also British, works away on a second-rate literary biography; tavern-keeper Vasco sadly and silently reminisces about his marriage to an American, Lili; and young Teresa is preparing to leave the village for an uncertain future "outside." The simultaneous sense of stasis and great change is Ali's forte, and her characters' perceptions are sharp. But when anyone other than the Brits speak, it's as if Ali is trying to ventriloquize an incompletely acquired dialect. The characters' lives generate little tension, much like the pinball machine in Vasco's cafe that Stanton plays badly.