Ivo de Figueiredo’s lyrical and imagistic memoir navigates a difficult search for the origins of his estranged father, which opens a door to a family history spanning four continents, five centuries and the rise and fall of two empires. At the age of 45, Figueiredo traces his father’s family in the diaspora. Having emigrated from the Portuguese colony of Goa on the west coast of India to British East Africa, and later to the West, his father’s ancestors were Indians with European ways and values—trusted servants of the imperial powers. But in postcolonial times they became homeless, redundant, caught between the age of empires and the age of nations.
With lush descriptions and forthcoming honesty, A Stranger at My Table tells the story of a family unwittingly tied to two European empires, who paid the price for their downfall, weathering revolution and many forms of prejudice. The author’s trove of often-strange photographs, letters and recordings as well as his eye for the smallest details and double-meanings lead the reader down a mysterious path as his search for his family’s heritage results in a surprising reunification with his father and reconciliation with his past.