Figueiredo’s “vivid lore of the African Goans” featured in Mint
Figueiredo’s book is lifted by immensely moving feats of empathy in reaching across time and half the world
to plunge towards his father’s long-abandoned Afrikander universe of meaning…
Norwegian-Goan author Ivo de Figueiredo’s memoir A Stranger at My Table has recently drawn attention from Mint, an Indian publication with an international audience equivalent to The Financial Times in the U.K. and The Wall Street Journal:
After the mother countries of the subcontinent wrenched freedom at midnight in 1947, decolonization loomed in the African colonies as well […] The Goans of Africa were blindsided and betrayed. […] Double exile [became] the bedrock their identity. […] But while politicians abound among the Afrikanders, it took an entire generation’s passing for significant art and literature to emerge from the community’s trauma. Next month, the Whitney Biennial 2019 in New York will feature the versatile 39-year-old Kenyan-Goan-Canadian artist, Brendan Fernandes, whose artworks often refer to his multilayered heritage. But the most significant turning point comes when Ivo de Figueiredo’s unforgettable memoir is published in English for the first time.
There is delicious irony in the fantastic fact that the long-awaited “great Afrikander book” has emerged most unexpectedly in Scandinavia, first written in Norwegian by the biographer of Norway’s most cherished cultural icons: Henrik Ibsen and Edvard Munch. […] Figueiredo is an impressively sophisticated writer [… and a] crucial part of Norway’s stellar contemporary cohort of verfabula specialists, pushing narrative non-fiction into the high art category classically reserved for novels and poetry. Notable contemporaries include Karl Ove Knausgåard, whose six-volume autobiography plumbs the extreme limits of verisimilitude, and Åsne Seierstad, author of The Bookseller Of Kabul, a global best-seller.
Painful experience has taught us alienation shadows migration, vesting multifold in successive generations. There is already vast literature in this vein: a million Naipauls now, and forever. But Figueiredo’s book is different, lifted by immensely moving feats of empathy in reaching across time and half the world to plunge towards his father’s long-abandoned Afrikander universe of meaning, as well as an uncommon willingness to lay bare the confusions and humiliations that plagued his quest. The literature of India’s diaspora is greatly enriched by this acclaimed author’s leap of faith into his father’s lost history, the vivid lore of the African Goans.
– Vivek Menezes, “The in-between world of the African Goans”
Read the full feature article.