'Fado', a word meaning fate or destiny, refers to a type of music that embodies the Portuguese spirit of yearning. The two instruments accompanying the Fado singer are a twelve-stringed Portuguese guitar and a Spanish guitar.
Fado is a novelette that spans one year, a year marked by religious and pagan festivals, political holidays and the seasons. Told by a mysterious narrator, at the heart of the tale are two characters, Maria Salvador, a Fado singer from Lisbon, and from Porto, Joaquim Oliveira, a veteran of the Colonial War in Mozambique, who suffers from PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder.
Drawn together by the Douro valley and an English port wine shipper, their separate stories are a haunting song, the two tales resembling the counterpoint of the two guitars. It is a song of Portugal, of love and war, rich and poor, superstition and religion, of exile and emigration, of death and injustice, and of course, fate. It is a story that weaves into a tragic climax as the narrator tries to solve the puzzle: why did Maria Salvador stop singing?