Miguel Sousa Tavares first novel relates the complicated political situation of S o Tom and Principe islands a Portuguese colony at the time along the west coast of Africa in the beginning of 1900 s The main character of this historic novel is Luis Bernardo Valen a who owns his own shipping agency in Lisbon likes to read his daily papers has an interest in politics and occasionally publicly comments some newspaper articles such as the one recently on the colony of S o Tom and Principe Luis Bernardo lives his enjoyable life in Lisbon high society in the beginning of the 1900 s when out of the blue he is called by King D Carlos for a meeting at the royal summer palace in Vila Vi osa The king posts Luis Bernardo into special mission as the governor of the S o Tom Principe islands along the Euator by the coast of Western Africa The humid and tropic island of S o Tom was far from the Lisbon that Luis Bernardo knew and had a population of 45000 and no cars This Portuguese colony was mainly cultivating cocoa and coffee and some sugar since the 16th century with the help of the slaves that had been brought in from African mainland mostly Angola By 1908 S o Tom had become the world s largest producer of cocoa and the supposedly continued slavery in the islands became a topic of international controversy especially since Portugal had officially abolished slavery in 1876 Luis Bernardo was to take up his position as the governor of this colony and was to prove to the international community especially England that the Angolan workers working at the cocoa farms were not slaves and this way avoid the boycotts by the English and German companiesAs Luis Bernardo sails on the Zaire through the fog to his now home along the euator his despair and longing for civilization and Lisbon life the life he had known so far can be touched and felt through the beautiful writing of Miguel Sousa TavaresI loved the book besides an interesting history lesson for me it took me back to the beginning of 1900 s and to the euator What to say about this book For starters all I knew of it going in was that it s a Portuguese book set in AfricaIt was a very enjoyable read despite some long exposition info dumps The author writes very well and the plot is interesting The setting is the 1905 Portuguese colony S o Tom and Pr ncipe and the diplomatic war between Portugal and England on whether slavery is still happening in the colonyWe follow Lu s Bernardo a Portuguese lawyer somewhat bored with life and who happens to be chosen by the king himself due to an article he wrote to act as the Islands governor His mission is to prove there is no slavery in the colony and the story develops from thereHowever and maybe because I was in a reading slump the story takes its sweet time starting which may lead some to think it s boring For the greater part it s not although some points here and there could ve been shortened unnecessary long long chaptersI think every Portuguese who likes to read should take a peak at this book and given the current social times it s very curious to see the way black folk were treated in the beginning of the last century vs what s happening now It has also been translated into English Spanish French Italian and other languages so my foreign followers can also read itOverall enjoyable 35 PS Mild mild spoiler the book has some R rated romance in it The poor women and people of color in this book are no than props It really brings *The Whole Thing Down I Couldn T *whole thing down I couldn t the ending A beautiful story about the political fight of a man in S o Tom e Pr ncipe against the colonial background of its home country Portugal Set in the beginning of the 20th centuryNot only do I strongly recommend that ou read it I would be inclined to think that this book is suitable for compulsory reading in our schools than some of the current choices They will neveraccept that the surreptitious slavery they practiseisn t a
gift from Providence October 21 2014 This review is from Euator HardcoverStarted this unsure exactly where Sao from Providence October 21 2014 This review is from Euator HardcoverStarted this unsure exactly where Sao is feel I ve learned an awful lot and been greatly entertained on the wayWell written narrative opening in 1905 when Luis Bernardo is asked to go leave his luxurious life to sort out problems in this godforsaken spot the plantation owners here determinedly run their businesses using slaves from nearby Angola Meanwhile the British led by William Cadbury are threatening to boycott their chocolate if things don t change fast Luis Bernardo has the impossible task of persuading
"THE ISLANDERS TO SACRIFICE THEIR PLENTIFUL LABOR FORCE FOR "islanders to sacrifice their plentiful labor force for conditions And meanwhile the new British consul and his wife have arrived to make their own report on conditionsThe one failing of this novel is the romance and the graphic sex scenes which are extremely poorly written and seem out of place with the writing style elsewhere It s like slipping into Mills and Boone every so oftenI d probably give it 35 Euator began promisingly introducing Luis Bernardo Valenca the owner of a small Portuguese shipping company who in 1905 is himself unwillingly shipped off to the other side of the globe to be governor of the tiny cocoa producing colony of Sao Tome e Principe Luis has been tasked by the king of Portugal with persuading the Portuguese colonists on the island to forego slave labour while at the same time persuading the visiting English consul that slavery has never existed there Tavares initial description of early twentieth century Portugal and its political situation are intriguing but much of the rest of the novel is disappointing and at points frankly racist Tavares has written Why Place Matters yet another novel about slavery and colonialism in Africa which mostl. It is 1905 and Luis Bernardo Valenca a thirty sevenear old bachelor and owner of a small shipping company is revelling in Lisbon’s grand and luxurious high society But his life is turned upside down when King Dom Carl. ,
Y elides African people and their experiences in favour of focusing on white men It s a racism which isn t overt but which cannot seem to conceive of a world in which the most important things that happen don t involve white men Much of the central portion of the novel when I was anticipating that Tavares would really get to grips with what was happening on Sao Tome shifted to a lengthy an Orientalising description of India in order to give the back story of another white male character There was really no need to give this back story at such detailed length and it seemed to have been included only so that we could see how colonial service had done another white man wrong and he s one of the good guys really He speaks Hindi and Urdu so he can t be racist and when he feels up members of a rajah s harem he only ever does so over their clothes and never puts his penis in their vaginas so it s totally not the same as cheating To Rabbittown you guys Ugh Non white characters have only a handful of lines in Euator despite a slave rebellion being one of the climactic events of the novel character development for the handful of women in the book mostly comes in the form of descriptions of their breasts and in how willing they are to jump into bed with Luis An example of how white people should not approach writing historical fiction I was excited to find a book set in S o Tom and Pr ncipe and this one started out interesting albeit slow paced Unfortunately it soon became offensive on several levels and took much longer than I expected to finishIn 1905 Luis Bernardo is a gentleman in Lisbon when he s called upon to spend threeears as governor of S o Tom and Pr ncipe The British are accusing the Portuguese of using slave labor on the islands and threatening to boycott their exports Luis Bernardo s job is to clean up the situation before that happens Note that while the international relations aspect is historical Luis Bernardo is fictional Unfortunately the author does not include a note at the end explaining how much of his story was inspired by real eventsAs I mentioned the story while it moves slowly is at least interesting Luis Bernardo is immediately at odds with the reactionary plantation society and his efforts to reform it kept my attention It s not often that novels about slavery feature a character in authority actively trying to change things The white male characters including Luis Bernardo are reasonably well drawn the resistance that he meets feels genuine and realistic The islands come across fairly vividly and the novel appears well researched and contains interesting historical informationBut of course there s something wrong with a novel where only the white male characters come across as fully human and the number of isms Tavares manages to pack into the book fairly boggles the mind First the women they exist entirely as sex objects and accessories without any development beyond that this is particularly unfortunate with Ann who gets a lot of page time but never becomes than an ample panting bosom In fact there s only one woman in the book with whom Luis Bernardo does not have sex and that s only because he doesn t get around to itSecond the Africans they re Hollywood stereotypes none of them taking important roles even though their conditions are at the heart of the book This is especially odd because a crucial aspect of Luis Bernardo s character is that he s the one Portuguese on S o Tom who sees and treats them as human one wonders why the author couldn t manage to do the sameRelatedly there s the treatment of colonialism Given the setting it s natural enough for the white cast to support it even the liberal minded Luis Bernardo is in favor as long as it s civilizing But things really get ugly when the omniscient narrator starts talking about India the book states flat out that the local people are incapable of governing themselves the British are good colonialists who don t meddle and are doing them a service etc And it reverts to stereotypes contrasting that elemental instinctive country with the civilised world where good taste and discrimination reigned even that elemental instinctive country with the civilised world where good taste and discrimination reigned Tavares even us howler It was arguable whether Providence had chosen Great Britain to direct the destinies of India after all the Portuguese had got there first and after them and before the English the French Around this point I started to suspect that the 2003 publication date was misleading perhaps the book was written contemporaneously with the events it describes but published posthumously Sadly no Somehow this really is a 21st century novelTo top it off Tavares even throws in some anti Semitism an antiues dealer is demonized as a despicable Jewish trader and the like for the terrible crime of complaining when an item he paid a large amount of money for in a legitimate sale is publicly confiscated by the police as stolen propertyAt any rate there s a reasonably interesting story in there somewhere but I m not about to recommend a book that reduces most of humanity to objects Again this is especially unfortunate here because in the hands of a better author these characters and this story might have amounted to *something worthwhile The novel by Miguel Sousa Tavares Ecuador is the story *worthwhile The novel by Miguel Sousa Tavares Ecuador is the story Luis Bernardo Valen a a oung Lisbon dandy who is offered by King Don Carlos a post he cannot refuse That of the governor of a Portuguese colony in off Africa in Sao Tome and Principe which he knows nothing abroad A bit like most Portuguese at the beginning of the 20th century over Its mission is to refute the idea that the English have concerning this tiny archipelago far from its metropolis namely that slavery practised there illegally since it has abolished si. Os invites him to become governor of Portugal’s smallest colony the island of São Tomé e Principe Luis Bernardo is ill prepared for the challenges of plantation life – used to a softer urban existence he is shocked.