New Directions is proud to introduce the masterwork of Cape Verde’s greatest living writer, Germano Almeida: an ironic and original tragic-comedy from a new voice in African literature. Everyone in Cape Verde knows Señor da Silva. Successful entrepreneur, owner of the island’s first automobile, a most serious, upright, and self-made businessman, Señor da Silva is the local success story. Born an orphan, he never married, he never splurged; one good suit was good enough for him; and he never wandered from the straight and narrow.
Or so everyone thought.
But when Señor da Silva’s 387-page Last Will and Testament is read aloud; a marathon task on a hot afternoon which exhausts reader after reader; there’s eye-opening news, and not just for the smug nephew so certain of inheriting all Señor da Silva’s property.
With his will, Señor da Silva leaves a memoir that is a touching web of elaborate self-deceptions. He desired so ardently to prosper, to be taken seriously, to join (perhaps, if they’ll have him) the exclusive Grémio country club, and, most of all, to be a good man. And yet, shady deals, twists of fate, an illegitimate child: such is the lot of poor, self-critical Señor da Silva. A bit like Calvino’s Mr. Palomar in his attention to protocol and in his terror of life’s passions; a bit like Svevo’s Zeno (a little pompous, a little old-fashioned, and often hapless), Señor da Silva moves along a deliciously blurry line between farce and tragedy: a self-important buffoon becomes a fully human, even tragic, figure in the arc of this hilarious and touching novel – translated into Spanish, German, French, Italian, Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish, and now, at last, English.