The novel draws a marvellously vivid, slyly humorous portrait of Angolan colonial society, with its disdain for work seen as the domain of slaves snobberies and sexual intrigues.
Creole is unlike any other epistolary narrative of slavery you will have read; there are no obvious parallels with The Colour Purple, or even with the autobiography of Olaudah Equiano or the letters of Ignatius Sancho. The literary leitmotifs are French. The hybrid tumble of ideas echoes Jorge Amado and the lyricism Camoes, but some sections of the prose are curiously plain. Agualusa's playful dissection of social mores recalls de Queiroz, but he is less mordant, and ultimately more interested in the big story the path taken by slaves from Portuguese Africa (triangular or square?), the overlaps and ironies of miscegenation. The frame on which he hangs these obsessions is slight, if historically authentic; one wonders what Agualusa would have produced if he had extended his homage by borrowing 19th-century literary structure.
Creole is a brave, fragmentary fantasy of racial harmony with rotten notes.