Africa Book : The Whistler by Angolan Author Ondjaki

An Angolan masterpiece of comedy

It’s quite rare to find an Angolan book translated into English, but this novel by Angolan author Ondjaki is a comedy that deserves a greater readership. The Whistler by Ondjaki,  Translator: Richard Bartlett, 2008, ISBN: 9780955233975

A stranger wafts into a village with no name and sets to whistling as he wanders idly through the church, hypnotising the doves in the rafters and bringing the priest to tears with his haunting tune. Thus begins a week of whispers and gossip that culminates in a Sunday Mass celebrated with orgasmic fervour as the whistler’s enchanting tune bewitches the frustrated faithful. Spellbinding, irreverent and hilarious, Ondjaki’s comic masterpiece from Angola, The Whistler, is a triumph of joy over adversity in a country ravaged by sorrow. The Whistler offers a vision of hope and humanity to a people suffering the painful after-effects of the civil war that traumatised the author’s homeland.  The Whistler is a fresh and charming tale by one of Africa’s most promising writers in the Portuguese language. — It makes a valuable and original contribution to contemporary fiction in Africa as a whole. — This book will be of value in to those teaching or studying contemporary southern African and Lusophone literature and Angolan history and society. — As a product of Angola, a country riven by civil war and its after-effects for the past 30 years, a novel of such laughter and unmitigated hope comes as a welcome shock. African Review of Books

About the author

Ondjaki (1977-) Born in Luanda, he is a versatile young talent who has also exhibited paintings and given public performances as an actor. He has published one other novel, the autobiographical Bom dia camaradas (2003 and forthcoming in English), as well as a number of poetry and short story collections, and a children’s book.

Richard Bartlett (translator) He is a South African journalist, translator and publisher.


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