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Parts of Africa

Helder Macedo

Translated by Phillip Rothwell

Steeped in postcolonial concerns, Parts of Africa’s central tension emerges from the narrator’s maturing realization of and growing opposition to what colonialism really meant not just for Africa, but for Portugal itself. Through multiple dialogues with cultural giants, from Mozart and Machado de Assis to Shakespeare and Stendhal, Parts of Africa teases out the ambivalences and ambiguities of Portugal’s interaction with its colonies, and by extension, the complexities of all colonial legacies.

Helder Macedo was born in 1935. The son of a Portuguese colonial administrator, he spent his childhood in Mozambique. He published his first volume of poetry, Vesperal, in 1957. An opponent of the Portuguese dictatorship, Macedo went into exile in London in the late 1950s. There, he worked for the BBC and earned a doctorate at King’s College, where he began a career in academia. In 1982, he was appointed the Camoens Professor of Portuguese, a position he occupied until his retirement in 2004. One of the most distinguished scholars of his generation, his first novel, Parts of Africa, was published in 1991.

Phillip Rothwell is King John II Professor of Portuguese Studies at the University of Oxford.