Anna Augusto

the Author of The Imbondeiro Tree

Date:

Born in Angola in 1969, Anna Augusto experienced the tumultuous political landscape of her homeland firsthand. At the tender age of six, Anna and her family were forced to flee hastily, leaving behind the life they knew. They sought refuge in the United States, first in Southern California and then Idaho where they eventually settled.

Anna pursued her education, earning a degree in social sciences. She hopes to one day obtain her Master’s degree in World History with an emphasis in European Colonization.

Her academic journey fuels her passion for understanding societal dynamics and the forces that shape history, leading her to become an avid reader and history enthusiast. Today, Anna lives in Boise, Idaho, close to her parents and extended family.

TBE: The Imbondeiro Tree is such a richly detailed and emotionally resonant memoir chronicling your father Antonio’s life journey. What inspired you to want to share his story, and did you always envision doing so through a book-length work?

Anna Augusto: I just felt that his story was incredible and needed to be shared. His perseverance and relentless ambition inspired me so much. Yes, I always envisioned his story in a book-length work.

TBE: Your writing immerses readers so vividly in the various settings – from the Azorean islands to the untamed Angolan plains to the harsh realities of starting over as refugees in America. How did you go about capturing those sense-of-place details and atmospheric textures so potently on the page?

Anna Augusto: I have travelled to the Azores many times while growing up and as an adult; therefore, I have vivid memories of this special place. As for Angola, I was six years old when we left, and I remember everything so clearly. Finally, the transition to the United States at age six left a powerful impression on me. Not only because I was mourning my home in Angola, but because it was very difficult to adjust to our new life.

TBE: A major strength of the book is your very nuanced, psychologically intricate portrayal of your father as well as your mother, Teodora. You don’t render them as simple heroic archetypes but as fully realized human beings with flaws, complexities and moments of selfishness alongside resilience. Why was it important to you to avoid oversimplified characterizations?

Anna Augusto: It was extremely important. I wanted to convey an honest portrait of my parents. For me, it was important that readers see themselves in the struggles, the joys, and the universal human desire to improve their lot in life. Humans are complex, with virtues and faults alike. I believe the book needed to display all of that in order for readers to connect and care about the characters.

TBE: The memoir explores so many profound themes around resilience, the double-edged nature of ambition, the impermanence of identity, and humanity’s struggles to persevere amid constant upheaval and uprooting. Did you have a guiding philosophical perspective or existential curiosity you wanted to illuminate through your family’s story?

Anna Augusto: Yes, through my family’s story, I tried to illuminate the philosophical perspective that resilience is an inherent aspect of the human condition, a force that drives us forward even in the face of adversity. Ambition, while a powerful motivator, often comes with its own set of challenges and can shape our identity in complicated ways. By sharing my father’s story and our family’s experiences, I wanted to explore how these themes intertwine and highlight the universal struggle to persevere and find meaning in the midst of constant change. The memoir is an examination of how we navigate life’s uncertainties and emerge stronger, more self-aware, and more connected to our roots and aspirations.

TBE: There are many deeply gut-wrenching, emotionally devastating passages detailing the loss of your family’s life and home in Angola due to the civil war, as well as the racism and dehumanization they faced as refugees in America. How did you find the emotional fortitude to revisit and render those painful experiences so vividly and unflinchingly on the page?

Anna Augusto: I had to remove myself somewhat from the memories in order to provide a clear account of the events that transpired. I felt a sense of responsibility to my family’s legacy. Writing about the heartbreak of suddenly leaving our home in Angola and facing an uncertain future in a new country allowed me to process and make sense of those experiences in a way that was both cathartic and empowering. Most importantly, however, I was driven by the need to honor the strength and courage of my parents and to ensure that our story was told with sincerity.

TBE: Teodora’s quiet strength and sacrifices as the family’s emotional bedrock emerge as a powerful narrative force, counterbalancing some of your father’s selfishness and self-destructive overreaching at times. Was elevating her perspective as the matriarch’s core an intentional priority for you?

Anna Augusto: Yes, it was definitely intentional. Although the memoir focuses mainly on my father and is told through his voice, Teodora’s quiet strength and unwavering sacrifices were the foundation that held our family together during the most tumultuous times. Her resilience, love, and emotional fortitude were crucial in our survival and adaptation, and it was important for me to honor her contributions. Her trust in Antonio’s judgement never wavered and she offered her support and encouragement always. Her story is a testament to the strength of matriarchs everywhere, and it was important for me to make sure that her legacy was acknowledged.

TBE: One of the most profound insights comes from your father’s line: “If I had to go back and re-choose my path, there is no doubt I wouldn’t change a thing.” This suggests he found grace and meaning in the tumultuous journey itself over permanent spoils. How does this emotional truth about embracing life’s upheavals as part of our identities’ becoming resonate with your own perspectives?

Anna Augusto: My father’s perspective on embracing life’s hardships has resonated with my own understanding of identity and personal growth. Like him, I have come to see that the challenges we face are integral to our development and shape who we become.  Accepting life’s misfortunes means recognizing that our identity are always evolving and are shaped by triumph as well as struggle. Also, my parents’ story reminds me to approach each new challenge with an open heart and an unwavering belief in the transformative power of the journey.

TBE: What were some of the most surprising or unexpected resonances you’ve encountered from readers so far who have seen their own families’ journeys and relationships reflected in The Imbondeiro Tree’s emotional landscape?

Anna Augusto: One of the most surprising and rewarding experiences has been hearing readers who see their own families’ journeys and relationships reflected in “The Imbondeiro Tree.” Many have shared stories of their ancestors who faced similar struggles, whether due to war, migration, or personal conflict. It has been profoundly moving to learn how deeply the themes of resilience, displacement, and the search for identity resonate with people from diverse backgrounds. It has also been so rewarding to hear readers tell me how they loved reading about my father’s life growing up in the Azores, because it was so similar to their lives, and so it was emotional and nostalgic for them to read about it. Additionally, some readers have related to the tension between ambition and familial responsibility, recognizing aspects of their own parents or grandparents in my father’s character.

All of this underlines the universality of these experiences and the shared human capacity to endure and thrive. Hearing these reflections has enhanced my understanding of the book’s impact, revealing the common threads that bind us all, regardless of our individual histories.

TBE: You’ve noted this memoir was just the start of your creative and academic journeys, with hopes of future books and research into themes of colonialism, displacement and humanity’s spiritual yearnings. Can you share a bit about what lies ahead and how the perspective you’ve gained will impact your future artistic work?

Anna Augusto: Currently, I am working towards my Master’s degree in history part-time.  I am unable to pursue it full-time due to my work obligations. I take one class per semester. Even though it is a slower process, it is very rewarding. I plan to delve into the themes of colonialism, displacement, and humanity’s spiritual yearnings through future books and academic research, further examining how historical forces shape individual and collective identities. I also hope to revisit my birthplace of Angola in the future.

One of my upcoming projects includes a historical novel set in Angola during the late colonial period, exploring the impact of colonialism on indigenous communities and their resilience in preserving cultural heritage.

The outlook I’ve gained from writing the memoir has greatly impacted my approach to these future endeavours. I have learned the importance of empathy, meticulous research, and the power of personal narrative in illustrating larger historical and social issues. This understanding will guide me as I try to create works that are not only intellectually rigorous but also deeply human, offering insights into the complexities of our shared history and the enduring strength of the human spirit.

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The Imbondeiro Tree by Anna Augusto
  • Publisher: Independently Published
  • Genre: Memoir
  • First Publication: 2013
  • Language: English

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