A Literary Journey to Brazil

Jorge Amado, Brazil’s most celebrated novelist, was, like the country, larger than life. His novels (“Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon” and “Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands” were reissued this past fall by Vintage; “Tent of Miracles” and “Tieta” in 2003 by University of Wisconsin Press) burst with energy — rollicking, robust, earthy tales from the northeast port cities of Ilheus and Salvador, of worker strikes, rubber booms and busts, and mulatto beauties. (The film versions of “Dona Flor” and “Gabriela,” incidentally, are classic ’70s softcore fare, starring the sumptuous Sonia Braga.) Amado, embraced in the U.S. during the Latin boom era of the ’60s and ’70s, had been pumping out hardy, proletarian-style novels since the ’30s, though by the ’50s they had turned more comic, lighthearted and bawdy.

Over at Salon, Anderson Tepper writes about the literary journey to Brazil. My own reading of literature from Brazil is limited to Jorge Amado’s Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands (that I did not quite catch), Twelve Fingers by Jo Soares and The Silence of the Rain by Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Rozaa, a detective novel which was left incomplete.

The best reading on Brazil, however, was Mario Vargas Llosa’s The War of the End of the World.

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3 thoughts on “A Literary Journey to Brazil

  1. haven’t read any brazilian book… except for war of the end of the world which is only set in brazil.

    susan sontag wrote an ecstatic essay on the nineteenth century novel posthumous memoirs of bras cubas. it is on my list ever since i read that essay.

    also I read in one of his interviews, Llosa thinks that the non-fiction brazilian book Rebellion in the Backlands is essential for understanding latin america. he even dedicated his book to the author, i dont remember his name now.

  2. Another great Brazilian writer was Clarice Lispector – especially her short novel ‘The Hour of the Star’ which was made into quite an excellent movie.

    Also Joaquim Machado de Assis, whose ‘Epitaph of a Small Winner’ is the novel that Alok referred to above, also wrote several other fine novels, including ‘Dom Casmurro’ and ‘Philosopher or Dog’

  3. alok/ tom: Thanks for the pointers, will probably stack up some of them soon.

    On a somewhat related note, I am in the middle of Sub Commandante Marcos and Paco Ignacio Taibo’s novel “The Uncomfortable Dead”, will post a review when I am finished with it.

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