Now, I’d never heard of this Portuguese novelist, although I’m sure others have, since I see he’s quite popular. And now I know why. I was asked to proofread the latest translation of his novel The Relic, and although I can’t speak specifically to the faithfulness of the translation, not being conversant in Portuguese, I will say that the translator, Aubrey F. G. Bell must have given an excellent rendition, since the story sucked me in and kept me occupied until I was finished.
It’s not a common thing for me to edit fiction yet, but I’d sure like to do more of this storyteller’s work. The plot sketch is as follows: Young boy of no means is adopted by a really uptight religious (Catholic) Aunt with lots of money, but oh, does she hate men and sex! So, our young protagonist tries to hide his sensual adventures and appear a devout ascetic (timeframe seems to be late 19th/early 20th century?) in order to win her favor, and most of all, her money. Ah the prices of hypocrisy!
Tense in many places, but above all fraught with humor and biting satire on the restrictions of Catholic prudery. I felt the moral dilemma the young man had gotten himself into, yet wanted him to be himself and quit sucking up to the Aunt. The author is a master storyteller. I could see the walnut-stained furniture, the Catholic icons, the becandled rooms and thick doorways, the narrow, crooked streets, the domes of the churches, the deserts and dealings on his trip to the Middle East. Very rich in setting, description, emotion, and action, all paced exquisitely.
Nothing like it. No regrets.
I think you can pre-order it here. I get to see them before they get published, of course. This translation is due out in April of this year (2012).