The odd title of this short novel is both self-explanatory as such and used a persistent mantra recurring throughout the story, smoothly adding a dimension and an additional time span to the plot.
That Pereira - a middle-aged journalist - is testifying somewhere at some later point is therefore clear from the outset. The tension in the narrative stems both from this fact and from the historical context. (Portugal is under pressure from fascist forces in pre-war Europe and the atmosphere under Salazar is growing tense.)
Though I do believe white middle-aged men have already taken up more than their fair share of literary space and though the subject-matter may not sound overly tempting, there is no doubt that this modest little book is an absolute masterpiece. The writing is elegant and simple, the symbolism present yet not overstated and the subjects dealt with as numerous as they are universal (friendship, oppression, courage, psychoanalysis, grief...).
Warmest thanks to equally brilliant Mohsin Hamid (author of 'The Reluctant Fundamentalist') for recommending it.