(...) "A man with a good story is practically a king", concludes one chapter, reflecting on how Angolans rewrite the past, but also how much they love storytelling. And Agualusa has many a good story here: the 37 chapters work as standalone shorts, while intertwining and coming together at the end. His storytelling is sometimes wilfully flamboyant, with chapter titles like "In which a disappearance is cleared up (almost two), or how, to quote Marx: All that is solid melts into air", but then these were strange and frenzied times.(...)
(...)Agualusa’s writing is a delight throughout, as he opens up the world of Portuguese-speaking Africa to the English-speaking community. And what a world it is.
An eccentric recluse surveys the transformation of Angola in this inventive novel (...).
(...)In this tale (...) one of Angola’s most inventive novelists has found the perfect vehicle to examine his country’s troubled recent past.
(...)An explanatory note tells readers that A General Theory of Oblivion grew out of Agualusa’s efforts to write the screenplay for a feature film based on Ludovica’s story. It is difficult to imagine this fragmented and impressionistic text, with its meditations on uprootedness and memory, transposed to the screen. But the subject matter seems perfectly suited to Agualusa, an author with a taste for the outlandish.(...)
(...) In a line that was surely included to bait book reviewers, one of the novel’s characters declares: “A man with a good story is practically a king.” If this is true, then Agualusa can count himself among the continent’s new royals.(...)
Snippets of diary entries – sometimes meditative, at other times paranoid and unhinged – interrupt an economical third-person narrative that follows Ludovica’s day-to-day survivalist life, during which she lures pigeons into traps using diamonds, grows vegetables on her terrace and makes bonfires in her kitchen. Through the windows and walls, she glimpses and hears life in the changing city outside (“a distant planet”); through her squinting eyes, we observe the country’s formative years.