Today begins the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Watching televised coverage of the Games, you will surely see glimpses of life in Rio in the background. If you want to round out your sports viewing with a more robust and nuanced view of life in Rio and in the rest of Brazil, here are some books and authors to pique your interest. (You’ll find even more on this list).
To feel the grit of the city, try a mystery. The Silence of the Rain by L.A. García-Roza is the first in a best-selling series in Brazil. Inspector Espinosa is different from other cops in Rio – he isn’t corrupt. He’ll have his hands full figuring out the truth behind the death of a corporate executive. Or try Rio Noir, a compilation of 14 atmospheric stories by Brazilian authors, set in the shadowy alleyways and favelas of Rio.
To put your finger on the pulse, check out some contemporary Brazilian fiction. In Blood-drenched Beard, a man who can’t recognize faces travels to an isolated beach town to discover the truth about his grandfather’s death, but his inquiries aren’t welcome. In his novel All Dogs Are Blue Rodrigo de Souza Leão takes the reader off the streets and into a mental hospital. Set against political intrigues that run from the 1960s to the 1980s, His Own Man by Edgard Telles Ribeiro is a story of diplomatic and personal ambition and power. The Head of the Saint by Socorro Acioli finds a teenage boy taking refuge in the head of an enormous statue and able to hear the amplified prayers of townspeople.
Perhaps you’re into experimental fiction? Boy are you in luck, as Brazil has long produced original works that make and break their own rules. Clocking in at a scant 62 pages, With My Dog-eyes by Hilda Hilst follows a professor as he has a breakdown. Eschewing plot, this becomes magical realism pushed to the point of nightmares. Or check out Hilst’s other equally short works. Or, simply, try anything by Clarice Lispector.
If you’re more of a classics reader, fret not, for Brazil has a rich literary history. Machado de Assis is considered one of the founding fathers of Brazilian literature, and wrote satirical novels in the late 1800s. Jorge Amado wrote novels focused on the reality of daily life for working class people. Backlands: The Canudos Campaign is Euclides da Cunha’s 1902 nonfiction account of the war waged by the Brazilian federal government against a rebellious group of settlers in Canudos in northern Brazil.
And finally, don’t forget something for the kids! For an endearing look at one wild birthday, try What A Party! by Ana Maria Machado.
~ posted by Andrea G.