In 1812, Francisco Manoel da Silva, escaping a life of poverty in Brazil, sailed to the African kingdom of Dahomey, determined to make his fortune in the slave trade. Armed with nothing but an iron will, he became a man of substance in Ouidah and the founder of a remarkable dynasty. His one remaining ambition is to return to Brazil in triumph, but his friendship with the mad, mercurial king of Dahomey is fraught with danger and threatens his dream.
"A masterpiece which everybody should read...It deserves to become a classic" Auberon Waugh
Bruce Chatwin was born in Sheffield in 1940. After attending Marlborough School he began work as a porter at Sotheby's. Eight years later, having become one of Sotheby's youngest directors, he abandoned his job to pursue his passion for world travel. Between 1972 and 1975 he worked for the Sunday Times, before announcing his next departure in a telegram: 'Gone to Patagonia for six months.' This trip inspired the first of Chatwin's books, In Patagonia, which won the Hawthornden Prize and the E.M.Forster Award and launched his writing career. Two of his books have been made into feature films: The Viceroy of Ouidah (retitled Cobra Verde), directed by Werner Herzog, and Andrew Grieve's On the Black Hill. On publication The Songlines went straight to No.1 in the Sunday Times bestseller list and remained in the top ten for nine months. On the Black Hill won the Whitbread First Novel award while his novel Utz was nominated for the 1988 Booker prize. He died in January 1989, aged forty-eight.
"A masterpiece which everybody should read...It deserves to become a classic" -- Auberon Waugh "No lunacy too weird, no irony too oblique, heart too tender, mischief too black, to dodge the sharp angle of his eye. He slips from the hilarious to the macabre, he celebrates the comedy and plumbs the tragedy of Francisco's life - and of Africa - in prose that grabs you with its precision" Observer "Outstanding, finely written" Independent "It is hard to know how posterity will regard this remarkable writer, but his terse, honed language was built to last" -- Colin Thubron Sunday Times