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The Observer (The Guardian), 2nd November 2008

15.05.14

Portuguese Parables

 

By Mary Fitzgerald

 

This novel is a collection of loosely linked stories set in an unnamed Portuguese village populated by, among others, the Devil; a malicious giant; a set of Siamese twins joined at the tips of their little fingers; and José the shepherd who, after a run-in with the Devil, is fated to a life of unrelenting pain. Their lives are blighted by poverty and hardship but while their stories are often brutal there are unforgettable moments of tenderness - José's love for his infant son, the marriage of the cook to one of the Siamese twins, and the (relative) domestic bliss into which the three of them settle. Peixoto's writing possesses a rare, rhythmic beauty revisiting notions that might, in the hands of a lesser writer, seem clichéd but here acquire a haunting resonance.

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