maquina

The latest addition to my website is valter hugo mãe‘s a máquina de fazer espanhóis [The Machine for Making Spaniards]. Note that he spells his name and writes his books entirely in lowercase. Apart from that annoying quirk, this really is an excellent novel. It tells the story of Antonio Silva, an eighty-four year old man whose wife, Laura, on whom he is very dependent, has just died. His children move him into an old people’s home where, initially, he is very unhappy but he gradually adapts, making friends with some of the other residents. But while that alone would make this an interesting novel, mãe, through Antonio, discourses on Portugal, both Portugal under Salazar and Portugal now, and is highly critical of the system damning religion, the police and the Salazar regime. Portugal has become, in his view, a machine for making Spaniards as the Portuguese want to be Spanish where they would have a better life. This idea is cleverly woven into the story, as the old people talk about it and we see what has happened to them, during their lives. Sadly, none of his work is available in English, though it is available in French, German and Spanish.