The impact of João Paulo Borges Coelho’s ‘A força do mar de Agosto’ rests largely on its concurrent conceptualization of the Indian Ocean and on its instrumental use of the Indian Ocean as a literary device. In Borges Coelho’s short story, the sea is made into something other than a mere background for (neo)colonial – military, economic – endeavours or a simple metaphor at the service of historical and philosophical enterprises. The spatial reframing operated in the short story’s arresting premise – that of a sea which does not wet – sets off a process of writing and reading (in and of) the sea which illustrates as well as enacts literature’s potential to unsettle both conceptualizations of History and accepted historical records. The political critique of authoritarian practices and neoliberal diktats that unfolds in the text is inseparable from a wider textual and contextual (local and global) examination of sedimented historical, political and philosophical forms that literature may, perhaps should, force open.
Miranda, R. (2020). History, literature and the indices of the Ocean: Force of signification in Borges Coelho’s ‘”A força do mar de Agosto”. In A Companion to João Paulo Borges Coelho. Peter Lang International Academic Publishers