The Society of Reluctant Dreamers

by

Translated from by

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Book Description

José Eduardo Agualusa’s restless protagonist, Daniel Benchimol, spends his dreaming hours interviewing revolutionaries and writers. In this treacherous sleepscape, we find the Angolan anti-communist Jonas Savimbi, Muammar Gaddafi, hunched and hiding in a gutter, and Julio Cortázar as a great billowing tree, speaking to Daniel through an alphabet of clouds. He dreams wild dreams of people he’s never met, squinting at them as if submerged in the hazy waters of southern Angola.

When Daniel finds a camera on the beach, he becomes obsessed with the woman in the photos. Moira is a Mozambican artist with a similar preoccupation with her subconscious life – she stages her dreams in her artwork. The two meet, and together they explore the cloudy edges of their nightly visions, tugging at the fringed hem of the real. The Society of Reluctant Dreamers is a delicately crafted glimpse into the aftermath of Angolan independence, a postcard sent to prod the illusion of peace and freedom.

For Angolan novelist José Eduardo Agualusa, his country’s history has been a wellspring of both inspiration and ambivalence . . . His latest novel to be translated into English, The Society of Reluctant Dreamers, follows the country’s fortunes into the recent past, which are less violent [than during the Angolan civil war] but hardly peaceful . . . For Agualusa, the uncertain moment offers a perfect context to tell a story steeped in uncertainty, swimming in dreams.
Mark Athitakis, On The Seawall


False memories and clairvoyant dreams combine in Agualusa’s sweeping, intricately plotted tale of personal and political history in Angola . . . While the dense and tangled story, rife with diary entries, recounted personal histories, and thinly drawn tertiary characters, is almost too short for its own good, Agualusa manages to pull off a deeply satisfying ending . . . (a) populous, multilayered commentary on the fogs of love and war.
Publishers Weekly


It’s a winning novel, a fundamental ebullience simmering under the story and then coming out full force . . . An enjoyable read, and interesting glimpse of contemporary Angola.
M.A.Orthofer, The Complete Review


A nimble investigation into the liminal spaces between collective unconscious, lived experience, and political reality, The Society of Reluctant Dreamers is an epistemic jaunt through post-colonial Angola. I enjoyed every moment of this stirring and surreal book.
Katharine Solheim, Pilsen Community Books


Cross J.M. Coetzee with Gabriel García Márquez and you’ve got José Eduardo Agualusa, Portugal’s next candidate for the Nobel Prize.

Alan Kaufman, author of Matches


Without doubt one of the most important Portuguese-language writers of his generation.

António Lobo Antunes


PRAISE FOR JOSÉ EDUARDO AGUALUSA’S A GENERAL THEORY OF OBLIVION



Agualusa’s novel is a powerful examination of personal recollection and public upheaval, and a penetrating study of isolation and the cost of freedom.

Malcolm Forbes, The National


Hahn is one of our most experienced translators. Such experience shows in tiny interventions to guide the English reader through the chaos of the Angolan battlefield . . . and in his taking confident ownership of certain descriptive passages, ensuring the music of the original is conveyed along with the meaning . . . a timely homage to the prize of Angolan independence.

The Independent


In collaboration with PEN Transmissions, Granta invites Daniel Hahn to directly respond to an essay he’s translated: “Connecting Worlds, Inventing Worlds” by Agualusa.