With the grand sweep of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, a masterpiece saga about two clashing families in 1990s coastal Portugal.
“Because of the magnitude of her work . . . marked by originality and independence of judgment” is how the jury for the FIL Prize in Romance Languages described their honoring of Portuguese writer Lídia Jorge for this most prestigious award. For the first time, American readers can embrace the novelist’s rivetingly human narratives that have heralded so much acclaim.
Exquisitely translated by Margaret Jull Costa and Annie McDermott, The Wind Whistling in the Cranes tells the story of the landlords and tenants of a derelict canning factory outside of Lisbon: the wealthy, always-scheming Leandros, and the warm Matas from Cape Verde, who have made a new home amongst machinery untouched since the Carnation Revolution. When Leandro matriarch Regina is found dead outside the building, her peculiar granddaughter Milene investigates, ultimately—catastrophically—enmeshing herself with the Matas. Perpetuating a tradition established by Gabriel García Márquez, this enduring novel of innocence and prejudice announces Jorge as an international powerhouse.
About the Author: Lídia Jorge is a leading figure in Portuguese literature whose accolades include European Writer of the Year.
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Founded in 1908 by Jose Joaquim Leandro, the Fabrica de Conservas Leandro was a canning factory near Lisbon, located in the seaside town of Algarve. Considered to be a great benefactor, Leandro hired children, nonworkers, to generate extra income for their families. The tides changed during the Carnation Revolution of 1974, marking an end to Portuguese Colonial War. Workers seized control of factories and farms, selling off machinery, leaving businesses in ruin. As of 1984, the Factory was home to a family of Cape Verdean immigrants, the Matas family, who paid a nominal rent to Regina Leandro in exchange for maintaining the abandoned canning compound. "[Milene] had walked back and forth along that path, looking for some trace of her grandmother, a footprint, a hair...anything to explain or at least confirm what had happened...Milene could visualize [with clarity] Grandmother Regina, in her nightdress, giving the ambulance men the slip making her way back to the Fabrica de Conservas Leandro, 1908." How had Grandmother managed to walk, in the dark, through mud and slurry, only to die at the gates of the Factory? "[Milene] felt she wouldn't be able to keep intact for much longer the basket of facts inside her head. These facts would all begin to disintegrate, to escape like freed ions...then, when her aunts and uncles arrived [from holiday], she would have nothing to tell them". Milene pried open the gates of the seemingly deserted Factory. She found a place to hide behind a "fabric forest" of hanging sheets. "Glory...once achieved by a single member of a family, glory can nourish past and future generations, bestowing on them meaning they would otherwise lack...Janina's triumph on stage, the Matas' triumph with that building, their house...the joy of sitting in the third row at the Coliseu dos Recreios...Driven on by wild applause that reverberated...had now run up against tragedy...Behind the washing partly hidden by the sheets...[a] person, huddled...looking at once defenseless and menacing...". Grandmother had been their landlady, therefore, Milene was their landlady as well. Matriarch Felicia Mata felt it was a blessing to break bread with Milene and let her spend the night. "You are not alone. you're with the Matas". Each of Milene's aunts thought "her whole life had been turned upside down by this earthquake". Inconvenienced. Holidays abruptly ended. Newspapers reported "truths and lies...skillfully woven into what appeared to be the truth. The Leandros were "immersed in thoughts that had nothing to do with the truth". So tedious...inexplicable. Milene's thoughts were inconsequential. "The Wind Whistling in the Cranes" by Lidia Jorge is a sweeping saga of the Leandro and Matas families against a backdrop of political and financial changes set to alter the landscape and change the lives of the citizenry of Algarve. Author Jorge has thoroughly, painstakingly, detailed the protagonists of the Mata family This reader came to love and understand Felicia Mata and her son, Antonino. The Leandos, a rich family, boasting a mayor among them, are fully fleshed out as well. Milene Leandro was my favorite. I highly recommend this beautifully written work of historical fiction. Thank you W.W. Norton & Company, Liveright and Net Galley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Read in one sitting. Absolutely captivating. When Leandro matriarch Regina is found dead outside the building, her peculiar granddaughter Milene investigates, ultimately—catastrophically—enmeshing herself with the Matas. Perpetuating a tradition established by Gabriel García Márquez, this enduring novel of innocence and prejudice announces Jorge as an international powerhouse.