In a crumbling apartment block in the Angolan city of Luanda, families work, laugh, scheme, and get by. In the middle of it all is the melancholic Odonato, nostalgic for the country of his youth and searching for his lost son. As his hope drains away and as the city outside his doors changes beyond all recognition, Odo-nato’s flesh becomes transparent and his body increasingly weightless.
Transparent City is a lively and invigorating novel now available to English-speaking readers ...
Lucky for us. With Transparent City, Ondjaki takes his place among the great fabulists of the past century ... His shape-shifting prose has a lighter touch than the likes of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but like the Colombian master, Ondjaki uses magic realism as a playful and blistering indictment against the tyrannical state ... It’s the exhilarating, kinetic emotion of the novel, however, that quickly seizes the reader ... Ondjaki has a knack for getting deep inside the hearts and minds of his characters ... a contemporary masterpiece.
Ondjaki’s prose pulses with life ... his emphasis on mundane interactions and their conversational subtleties ensures the novel’s gravity ... Transparent City can still feel a bit eclectic at times, but more so due to the text’s insistence on reflecting a whole city’s demeanor. Some moments, such as the numerous exchanges between a seashell seller and a blinded curmudgeon, shine with an unexpected clarity ... Notably, Stephen Henighan’s translation never appears to soften Ondjaki’s voice, preserving tonal subtleties amid the English adaptation. Ondjaki instills a sense of urban congestion throughout his discourse without unnecessary convolution ... Transparent City is at its strongest when it is momentary with its prose ... Ondjaki successfully reconciles the utility of a consistent narrative thread while maintaining an utterly unique form of transmission.
...[a] darkly pretty novel...peppered with poetry ... These disparate stories are woven into a beautiful narrative ... The novel reads like a love song to a tortured, desperately messed-up city that is undergoing remarkable transformations.