Book Of Chameleons, The
Number 1: Peirene Readers' List of 100 Translated Books Everyone Should Read
This unusual novel about the landscape of memory and its inconsistencies follows Felix Ventura as he trades in a curious commodity: he sells people different pasts. He can create entirely new pasts full of better memories and complete with new lineage or augment existing pasts as needed. Narrated by an exceptionally articulate and rather friendly lizard that lives on Felix's living-room wall, this richly detailed story explores how people can remember things that never happened – and with extraordinary vividness – even as they forget things that did in fact occur.
'Not since Gregor Samsa's metamorphosis have we had such a convincing non-human narrator. Associations between Kafka and the Angolan-born José Eduardo Agualusa cannot be pushed, but each has created a legendary fiction whose power partly resides in the observant neutrality of a cold-blooded creature surrounded by feverishly obsessed human characters' Independent
'The novel's themes of identity, truth and happiness are nicely handled and span both the political and the personal. It's very touching, in a refined way.' Publishers Weekly
'Agualusa's novel, which has roots in the magical realist tradition, is a sui generis work, refreshingly different, owing its primary allegiance to a specific time and place' Kirkus Reviews
'The mystery slowly becomes a meditation on - you guessed it - metamorphosis, which is not to say plot ever loses out to pondering. Or, put another way, the tail never wags the dog' Financial Times