The Book of Chameleons
A brilliant American debut by one of the most lauded writers in the Portuguese-speaking world, this is a beautifully written and always surprising tale of race, truth, and the transformative power of creativity.
Reading Group Guide
Setting the scene
"This is quite evidently an Angolan novel,"Agualusa says in the preceding interview. How important do you think the setting is to this story? Does it have a particularly African flavor, or is the setting just incidental?
One of the more unusual and daring aspects of The Book of Chameleons is that its narrative voice is the voice of a gecko - so does it work? Is the effect troubling? Sympathetic?
"This is clearly a book about memory and its traps, and about the construction of identities,"Agualusa says; but what do you feel he has to say about them? Is he just exploring, or is he trying to make a particular point?
The narrative is interspersed with dreams, and with memories of past lives. Does all this work? What does it add? In the interview Agualusa explains where the details of the gecko's past life have come from. Does knowing this help you?
There has long been a difference between two schools of translation - one believing that a translation should be invisible, another that it should be conspicuous (that is, you should always be aware you're reading a translation). What do you make of the translation of The Book of Chameleons?
Agualusa has outlined his influences as the Latin American writers García Márquez,Vargas Llosa, Borges, Fonseca and Amado. Do see more