Today we talk about And Suddenly the Flowers Withered and Other Stories. Tales of Angola, a book by João Melo published with our publishing house Europe Books.
Europe Books had the pleasure of interviewing the author João Melo to get to know him better, the moment that led him to the writing of his book And Suddenly the Flowers Withered and Other Stories. Tales of Angola, as well as the characteristics his audience should have to appreciate his book.
Below you can find our interview. Take a seat and enjoy your reading!!!
- Is there a particular moment in your life that led you to the writing of your book? What was that?
This book is a selection of short stories made by its translator – Clifford E. Landers -, who also organized it, based on several books published in Portuguese since the early 2000s, when I also started dedicating myself to fiction (I started as a poet). None of them were especially motivated by any particular moment; what I can say is that I started writing fiction when poetry was no longer enough for me to express my perception, reflections and different positions in relation to reality.
- What characteristics your audience should have to appreciate your book?
Readers of my fiction books in Portuguese – short stories and novels – tend to identify irony, in its various forms, as an essential characteristic of my texts. In fact, this happens because I am a tributary of a culture – the Luandan and Angolan culture – which cultivates irony and humor in a creative way in its daily life. Perhaps because, as Ngugi wa Thiongo states, “for us Africans, humor is a form of resistance”. Furthermore, I have always deeply admired authors who know how to use irony, such as the recently deceased Milan Kundera.
- How would you describe your writing style?
I obviously belong to the great realist tradition. Here or there, even, with hints of the so-called “dirty realism”, which does not hesitate to resort to eschatology. But I also make a point of breaking the traditional distance between the narrator, the characters and the narrative itself, questioning the omniscience of the narrator, creating doubts about the narrative process and, finally, openly dialoguing with the readers, in a style that some call post-modernity. modern. As I write in Portuguese and some characters only have a relative oral command of that language, another process is, in these cases, to work the language to correspond to this orality (for example, some stories have a long single paragraph, only with commas, introducing words and expressions from the Bantu languages, etc.). Finally, in many stories I have an explicit conversation with the readers. For me, literature is, more and more, a great conversation with readers.
- How was your publishing experience?
Although I started writing at a young age, I only published my first book after I turned 30, in Luanda. So far, I have published 23 books, including poetry, short stories, novels and essays, mostly in Angola and Portugal. Still in Portuguese, I am also published in Brazil. As for translations, I have books published in Cuba, Italy, USA and UK. This year, a book of poetry will be published in Spain. I am also negotiating the publication of books in China, France, Tunisia and Mexico. As you know, Portuguese, although it is the fifth or sixth most spoken in the world, with users on all continents, is more or less a peripheral language, from a geopolitical point of view.
- Are you working on a new writing project?
I have just finished writing a new book of short stories, which will be published in Angola and Portugal between the end of this year and the beginning of the next. I am also reviewing a book of young adult’s stories, for publication soon. While I wait for my novel to be released in China, I am organizing a selection of short stories for possible publication in that country as well. Then, I will organize a book of essays, with texts published in the press on topics such as culture, identity, racism and the like. And I continue to write one more novel – the second one -, which I intend to publish in 2025, the year of the 50th anniversary of Angola’s independence.
Europe Books thanks the author João Melo once again for taking the time and answering our questions. We are really pleased to have walked alongside him on the editorial path that led to the publication of his book And Suddenly the Flowers Withered and Other Stories. Tales of Angola. We wish him the best of luck for his book and for his future works.
To you, my dear reader, I wish this book through its creative irony and humour may let you reflect on your daily life, on how to better cope with it and make the most of it, nevertheless the difficulties that may occur.
So, my dear reader, all I have to say is to enjoy your reading!