By Luciana Leitão
These are tales of birds telling the future, of goddesses granting wishes to humans or of estranged lovers coming together in heaven. Tales of Macau, by the Portuguese author Alice Vieira, is skillfully written, capturing the essence of a magical place. The words are matched in beauty by the illustrations of French artist Alain Corbel.
It is a book for the youngest, suited for those who are aged eight or more. I would argue that I’m no longer eight and I read them wholeheartedly, anxious for reading the next page, so as to know the future written in these pages.
Tales of Macau, published by Caminho, is a beautiful book, describing surreal tales, serving as a good introduction to the Chinese culture for foreigners. It features the impossible love between A-Hêng and A-Kâm, Wan Lian’s contempt for his brother Lao Ta and the figures made by rice, by Liu Sui.
Included in the National Reading Plan in Portugal, this book gathers six fantastic tales from Macau, where gods and goddesses live side by side with men.
The book received several awards. Illustrator Alain Corbel won the National Illustration Award in 2002. The artist was born in Brittany, France, in 1965, but has been living in Portugal since the 1990s. In addition, the Brazilian edition also won an award in the South-American country for best portuguese literature work in portuguese language for children and youths.
Alice Vieira needs no introduction among the Portuguese readers. She is famous for children and youth books, having won several prizes. More recently, she has written also fictional novels for adults as well as poetry, having also won awards.
Tales of Macau is an adaptation of Chinese stories to Portuguese, and a beautiful one, leading us into the fantastic imaginary of such a different culture.
Note:This article was edited after publishing. Contrarily to what mART first wrote, there is already an English version, just not from the publisher Caminho. Prior to being turned into one single edition by publisher Caminho, Tales of Macau was originally published in a six book collection, by the Cultural Affairs Bureau — first in Portuguese and later in English.