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Josef Vondra

Given the recent happenings in East Timor, this is a timely novel. It is the moving story of the developing tragedy following the withdrawal of Portugal from its former colony and the invasion by Indonesia. The book is focused through Jose, a fourteen-year-old boy who finds the events puzzling and distressing. He finds some solace in the fighting cock given to him by his uncle, the person he most relies on for wisdom and guidance. Eventually, at the insistence of his mother, he is evacuated to Portugal, where he becomes a lawyer working for Amnesty International. The last chapter brings the book full circle, as we have first met Jose as an adult, in his law office in Lisbon, looking at a paperweight which holds the tail feather of a fighting cock.

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