My Father’s Wives

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My Father’s Wives by José Eduardo Agualusa

Translated from Portuguese by Daniel Hahn

Published by Arcadia Books, June 2008


Upon his death the famous Angolan composer Faustino Manso left seven widows and eighteen children.  His youngest daughter, Laurentina, a filmmaker, tries to reconstruct the late musician’s turbulent life.

In My Father’s Wives, reality and fiction run side by side, the former feeding into the latter. However, in the territories José Eduardo Agualusa crosses, fiction plays a part in reality too. The four characters in the novel which the author is writing as he travels accompany him from Luanda, the capital of Angola, to Beguile and Namibe. They cross the Namibian sands and their ghost towns, reaching Cape Town in South Africa. Then they continue on to Maputo and from Maputo to Quelimane beside the Bon Sinai’s river, and thence to the Island of Mozambique. As they drift on they cross landscapes that border dreams, landscapes from which – there and there – the strangest characters emerge. My Father’s Wives is a novel about women, music and magic.


José Eduardo Agualusa was born in Huambo, 1960, and is one of the leading young literary voices from Angola, and from the Portuguese language, today. Arcadia was pleased to publish his Creole, awarded the Portuguese Grand Prize for Literature, as well as The Book of Chameleons, winner of the 2007 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. Agualusa divides his time between Brazil, Angola, and Portugal.



Daniel Hahn has worked as a freelance editor, researcher and reader for a number of publishers. He has translated Agualusa’s novels Creole and The Book of Chameleons (winner of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2007), both published by Arcadia – and since 1996 he has worked regularly at Shakespeare’s Globe, writing and editing books, researching, scripting and curating exhibitions.



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