Granma Nineteen and the Soviet's Secret

Granma Nineteen and the Soviet's Secret

by Ondjaki
     
 

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BY THE WINNER OF THE 2013 JOSÉ SARAMAGO PRIZE
AN AFRICA39/UNESCO CITY OF LITERATURE 2014 TOP AFRICAN WRITER UNDER 40
A GUARDIAN TOP FIVE AFRICAN WRITER, 2012
WINNER OF THE GRINZANE PRIZE FOR BEST YOUNG WRITER, 2010

By the beaches of Luanda, the Soviets are building a grand mausoleum in honour of the Comrade President. Granmas are

Overview

BY THE WINNER OF THE 2013 JOSÉ SARAMAGO PRIZE
AN AFRICA39/UNESCO CITY OF LITERATURE 2014 TOP AFRICAN WRITER UNDER 40
A GUARDIAN TOP FIVE AFRICAN WRITER, 2012
WINNER OF THE GRINZANE PRIZE FOR BEST YOUNG WRITER, 2010

By the beaches of Luanda, the Soviets are building a grand mausoleum in honour of the Comrade President. Granmas are whispering: houses, they say, will be dexploded, and everyone will have to leave. With the help of his friends Charlita and Pi (whom everyone calls 3.14), and with assistance from Dr. Rafael KnockKnock, the Comrade Gas Jockey, the amorous Gudafterov, crazy Sea Foam, and a ghost, our young hero must decide exactly how much trouble he’s willing to face to keep his Granma safe in Bishop’s Beach.

Energetic and colourful, impish and playful, Granma Nineteen and the Soviet’s Secret is a charming coming-of-age story from the next rising star in African literature.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Endorsed by Slate's Culture Gabfest, "Live from Montreal" Edition

Praise for Granma Nineteen and the Soviet's Secret

"Ondjaki delivers playful magical realism with delightful defiance."—The Barnes & Noble Review

"As with Ondjaki's other novels—including Bom dis camaradas (2001; Good Morning Comrades) and Os Transparentes (2012)—this is a strangely deceptive read. Although the narrative often feels rather whimsical, Angola's long history of colonialism and conflict, its various foreign allies and enemies, and the extraordinary suffering of its population, are menacingly present ... a brave and highly political work."—Times Literary Supplement

"Angolan author Ondjaki has found an appropriate balance between knowing and not-knowing, sweetness and cruelty with his young narrator ... In language laced with Cuban Spanish and Russian-accented English, the story is informed by its political context but still manages to evoke that magical form of thinking that children in particular possess."—The Globe & Mail

"Remarkable ... at once a coming-of-age novel, rousing adventure, and lyrical experiment ... It is no surprise that this energetic and endearing novel is the work of a writer of such stunning accomplishment as Ondjaki, at his best when he is writing the frenetic wonderment of children, even as they contend with the deadly realities of war and political power. The result is ebullient, cinematic, and downright magical."—Words Without Borders

"A profound novel, perhaps a definitive one of collapsing Soviet power and influence in 1980s Africa ... it's not surprising that it has won literary prizes both as adult fiction and as best young adult novel ... a very mature work, well aware of a darker world around it, but careful in what shadows it throws on these pages."—M.A. Orthofer, The Complete Review

"A devilishly simple-yet-sturdy tale of childhood and revolution ... Ondjaki’s writing, full of humanity, vivacity, and character, is a whimsical breath of fresh air ... His is a voice the entire world should have the pleasure to experience."—Numéro Cinq

"Much of why I read international literature is that it's an opportunity to learn about different parts of the world, the politics and cultures of places I've never been. Often, things turn dark and tumultuous (the waking nightmares of so many Latin American authors, from so many disparate, ravaged countries, come to mind). This itself is what makes Ondjaki's Granma Nineteen and the Soviet's Secret so appealing—and surprising. This tale of an African country under Soviet rule is the opposite of so many politically driven novels, a story made noteworthy by its sense of humor and playfulness. Told as a coming-of-age story and a childhood adventure (think The Goonies, but in Angola, maybe), Granma Nineteen is serious literature, in tune with the world it's molded by, but—unlike so, so many books—honestly fun. It's joyous and whimsical and wonderfully effortless, aspects that seem unfortunately rare these days, but definitely welcome."—Justin Souther, Malaprop's (Asheville, NC)

Praise for Ondjaki

"The first significant writer to emerge from the generation that grew up with the revolution ... Ondjaki’s voice recalls the stories of Luandino Vieira [...] in its boundless energy."—Times Literary Supplement

"Deceptively simple but highly entertaining."—The Guardian

"Bubbling up beneath the often whimsical text are deeply unsettling matters – what the author has called Angola’s ‘deepest wounds’ – that expose a cruel and unyielding political dictatorship. Ondjaki pokes fun at the absurdities of the highly censored state-owned media and at the president, too ... Born in 1977, Ondjaki is less burdened by ideology and party loyalty than several older Angolan writers. He also has an ear for the banter, the gossip and chit-chat that beats at the heart of Luandan life."—Lara Pawson, Former BBC World Service Correspondent to Angola, author of In the Name of the People: Angola's Forgotten Massacre

"Here is, for once, a child-narrator who is not particularly precocious ... a dense, fast mix of many glimpses of Angolan life ... a warm, rich, worthwhile read."—The Complete Review

"Ondjaki, doubtless one of the most remarkable cultural figures to emerge in Angola since the year 2000, has increasingly been the object of critical acclaim."—Fernando Arenas, Lusophone Africa: Beyond Independence

"Ondjaki is a craftsman, and an adept one at that, who has the uncanny ability at once to shock and lull the reader."—Mail & Guardian

"Angolan author Ondjaki casts a spell on the reader [...] sending a message of hope from a country ravaged by decades of strife"—New Internationalist

"Granma Nineteen and the Soviet's Secret by Ondjaki (Biblioasis) is a major feat or translation by Stephen Henighan, who has managed to translate the text from Portugese to English, Sprinkle it with Russian, Spanish and Angolan phrases, preserve the many language-based jokes (and keep them funny), and maintain the momentum of this terrific story." Patty Osborne, Geist

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781927428658
Publisher:
Biblioasis
Publication date:
06/10/2014
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.50(d)

Meet the Author


Ondjaki was born in Luanda, Angola in 1977. He studied in Lisbon, Portugal and now lives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Ondjaki is the author of five novels, three short story collections and various books of poems and stories for children. He has also made a documentary film, May Cherries Grow, about his native city. His books have been translated into eight languages and have earned him important literary prizes in Angola, Portugal and Brazil. In 2008 Ondjaki was awarded the Grinzane for Africa Prize in the category of Best Young Writer. In 2012, The Guardian named him one of its Top Five African Writers.

Stephen Henighan’s books include Lost Province: Adventures in a Moldovan Family, A Grave in the Air, The Streets of Winter and A Report on the Afterlife of Culture. A nominee for the Governor General of Canada’s Literary Award, he teaches at the University of Guelph, Ontario.

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