Our Books

Our Musseque

Author: José Luandino Vieira

Translator: Robin Patterson   Cover design: Marie Lane  

'The result is a rich and involving piece of work that takes readers into the heart of the community it portrays. While those of us used to the conventions of the Anglo-European novel may find the fluid chronology and crowd of characters bewildering at points – we meet six in the first paragraph alone – the overall effect when you surrender yourself to the narrative is surprising, delightful and often profoundly moving. By the end of the book, we are nostalgic for a place we have never been.'

Ann Morgan's A Year of Reading the World;Book of the Month for February

'Jose Luandino Vieira's Our Musseque takes place in a shanty on the edge of Luanda, Angola, in the 1940s.Written in 1961, it has the bittersweet, elegiac feeling that tends to permeate remembrance of paradise lost. Vieira's vividly captures scents and sights while his narrator's boyish scrapes and first loves will touch those of us brought up on a very different side of the world.'

David Platzer in The Tablet

'A coming of age novel set in a shanty town on the outskirts of Luanda in the run up to Angola's War of Independence, this book heaves with colourful characters and irreverent tales. By turns earthy, funny and lyrical, it draws on the oral tradition to question stereotypes, the social order and storytelling itself.'

Scott Pack in Me And My Big Mouth Blog

Set in a shanty suburb of Angola's capital Luanda, in the 1940s and 50s, Our Musseque twists through a lively cast, among them a cobbler, prostitute,sailor, grocer, policeman, baker, rent collector and various children...This cannot have been an easy book to translate, but Robin Patterson's work is impressive.

Lara Pawson in The Times Literary Supplement

'In the shanty towns – or musseques – around the Angolan capital Luanda in the 1940s, class trumped race, for whatever their colour or aspirations the inhabitants were all poor. Not that it was all love and harmony as tensions blew up between white and black, aspirant and non-aspirant and within families. Told through the eyes of boy coming of age, graduating from playing with friends to falling in love, Our Musseque is a collection of tales which build into a novel detailing not just the boy’s transition but the erosion of the musseque as the bulldozers move in to build homes for the more affluent.The stories reflect the boyhood of the author, a Portuguese immigrant brought up in a musseque who became politically active and whose trial in 1959 helped spark the Angolan uprising against colonial rule.'

Scarlett MccGuire in Tribune

The shanty towns in Luanda, the capital of Angola, in the 1940s and 1950s, are vividly depicted in this idiosyncratic novel published more than 40 years after the author wrote it, in prison. Prostitutes, shopkeepers, children and drunks jostle and collide, giving conflicting accounts of their experiences as the civil war approaches, a conflict that will change their lives for good. Funny, shocking and moving, it makes you nostalgic for a place you have never been.

Ann Morgan in The Guardian

Growing up in a shanty town or musseque on the edge of Luanda in Angola during the 1940s is brought to life in this fictionalised account of a childhood darkened by Angola’s move towards armed struggle against Portuguese colonial rule. Despair is undercut by the hope as well as the fear of change.

Eileen Battersby in The Irish Times

RRP: £9.99

No. of pages: 196

Publication date: 09.01.2015

ISBN numbers:
978 1 910213 07 0
978 1 910213 21 6

World English