As the country goes through various political upheavals from colony to socialist republic to civil war to peace and capitalism, the world outside seeps into Ludo’s life through snippets on the radio, voices from next door, glimpses of someone peeing on a balcony, or a man fleeing his pursuers.
A General Theory of Oblivion is a perfectly crafted, wild patchwork of a novel, playing on a love of storytelling and fable.
Working in the fertile ground between fiction, philosophy, and enchantment, Agualusa has accomplished something strange and marvelous here, a whirling dervish of joy and pain, blood and memory, whose many high points I found myself re-reading immediately, eager to experience the shine of the prose like spun gold. It left me in awe of these stories we tell ourselves: those we need to survive, those that change us, and those that change with us.
Agualusa’s novel is a powerful examination of personal recollection and public upheaval, and a penetrating study of isolation and the cost of freedom.
Agualusa is a master of varied genre structure, and he has great fun shifting from spy novel to pastoral narrative to interior reflection, but his heart is deeply invested in his characters, and each individual's story burns itself into the reader to make us reconsider our capacity for empathy and understanding.
Finally finding human connectedness after so many years, Ludo also unwittingly facilitates connection between the revolving cast around her, creating in this highly artificial novel a profoundly satisfying and merciful sense of human family.
Dark and brutal when it needs to be, sensitive and thoughtful when it should be, the book is a bit of a riffle shuffle. It’s the callbacks, for a lack of a better word that I loved most in A General Theory of Oblivion.(...) Daniel Hahn’s translation is up with the best of his work. Is there anyone as consistently good as Hahn?