All of us on the team at tambdimati.com are very excited by our newest feature: the Goa bookshelf. Starting today, we will provide our readers with exclusive, serialized excerpts of some of the most essential books that have emerged from and about our culture.
It’s particularly exciting for us to begin with Joao da Veiga Coutinho’s brilliant, essential but sadly overlooked little gem of a book that emerged more than a decade ago, but has barely been read in Goa or in the USA, where it was published by Yuganta Press.
About AKoA, the author Victor Rangel Ribeiro has written “João da Veiga Coutinho’s A Kind of Absence raises questions that must lurk in the mind of every thoughtful Goan living in an alien land–questions that include how we Goans ourselves regard the nature of a Goan identity, and Goan history, and what meaning we give to either of these terms. A Kind of Absence is a unique document, the outcome of a lifetime’s probing by a keen and analytical intellect; it is at once profoundly moving and philosophical. I find myself rereading it at odd moments, being challenged by the issues it raises, trying (in da Veiga Coutinho’s own words) “to make clear in my own mind some issues in Goan history.” Eventually we may find, as he does, that “there is no single way of being Goan.” That one realization should shatter at a blow the very things that sometimes divide us–prejudices based on religion, caste, customs, even language and shades of color.”
And our own VM has written,”I read ‘A Kind of Absence’ a bit before its formal publication, somewhere in 2000, at the urging of the late George Coelho, who
thought it brilliant. I mostly agreed: it struck me as moving and deeply insightful in its thoughtful evocation of the Goan state of mind, particularly in exile. There were several passages that stood out as revelatory”