August 15, 2009

Take Me Brazil

Take Me Away Saturday

As a lover of books that take place in different cultures and are about different cultures, Take Me Away is a way to share this love with you, my readers and friends!

Each week I feature a different country or culture (ex. Cherokee, Jewish, etc. that do not have a specific country per se) and list some books that can transport you there.

I am keeping a map of the countries we visit and a list of the specific cultures, which you can see at the bottom of this post. Here is a list of where we've been so far:
India Sierra Leone
Sioux Nation Spain
Japan Haiti
Kenya Norway
Taiwan Turkey

This week we are visiting the South American country of Brazil. Click on the titles of the books to go to or Barnes & to read reviews and/or purchase the book.

Here is an easy to see map of Brazil:
Click here for more info on Brazil.

City of God: A Novel by Paulo Lins
Lins's 1997 fiction debut—the source of the 2002 film published in English for the first time—chronicles two generations over three decades in the infamous Rio de Janeiro City of God, "a neo-slum of concrete, brimming dealer-doorways, sinister-silences and cries of despair." From the slum's creation in the early 1960s for flood victims, through the rise of disco and cocaine in the 1970s, to the horrific gang wars of the 1980s, Lins traces the rise and fall of myriad, often teenaged gangsters for whom guns, girls and drugs are the tools of power. While the film traces the divergent paths of two childhood friends, the novel rushes from vignette to vignette, with an ever-changing cast of characters with names like "Good Life," "Beelzebub" and "Hellraiser." Years, and pages, pass in a haze of smoking, drinking, snorting lines of cocaine, dancing sambas, swearing and planning the next big score. Guns dispense justice; the price for disrespect, whether to a spouse, a friend or the favela, is torture or death. Lins, who grew up in the City, lets the horror speak for itself. He serves up a Scarface-like urban epic, bursting with encyclopedic, graphic descriptions of violence, punctuated with lyricism and longing. Publisher: Grove Press, Black Cat Genre: Historical Fiction

The Partner by John Grisham

They watched Danilo Silva for days before they finally grabbed him. He was living alone, a quiet life on a shady street in a small town in Brazil; a simple life in a modest home, certainly not one of luxury. Certainly no evidence of the fortune they thought he had stolen. He was much thinner and his face had been altered. He spoke a different language, and spoke it very well. But Danilo had a past with many chapters. Four years earlier, he had been Patrick Lanigan, a young partner in a prominent Biloxi law firm. He had a pretty wife, a new daughter, and a bright future. Then one cold winter night, Patrick was trapped in a burning car and died a horrible death. When he was buried his casket held nothing more than his ashes. From a short distance away, Patrick watched his own burial. Then he fled. Six weeks later, a fortune was stolen from his ex-law firm's offshore account. And Patrick fled some more. But they found him. Publisher: Dell Publishing Genre: Fiction; Mystery/Thriller

The Seamstress by Frances De Pontes Peebles

As seamstresses, the young sisters Emília and Luzia dos Santos know how to cut, how to mend, and how to conceal. These are useful skills in the lawless backcountry of Brazil, where ruthless land barons called "colonels" feud with bands of outlaw cangaceiros, trapping innocent residents in the crossfire. Emília, whose knowledge of the world comes from fashion magazines and romance novels, dreams of falling in love with a gentleman and escaping to a big city. Luzia also longs to escape their little town, where residents view her with suspicion and pity. Scarred by a childhood accident that left her with a deformed arm, the quick-tempered Luzia finds her escape in sewing and in secret prayers to the saints she believes once saved her life. But when Luzia is abducted by a group of cangaceiros led by the infamous Hawk, the sisters' quiet lives diverge in ways they never imagined. Emília stumbles into marriage with Degas Coelho, the son of a doctor whose wealth is rivaled only by his political power. She moves to the sprawling seaside city of Recife, where the glamour of her new life is soon overshadowed by heartache and loneliness. Luzia, forced to trek through scrubland and endure a nomadic existence, proves her determination to survive and begins to see the cangaceiros as comrades, not criminals. In Recife, Emília must hide any connection to her increasingly notorious sister. As she learns to navigate the treacherous waters of Brazilian high society, Emília sees the country split apart after a bitter presidential election. Political feuds extend to the countryside, where Luzia and the Hawk are forced to make unexpected alliances and endure betrayals that threaten to break the cangaceiros apart. But Luzia will overcome time and distance to entrust her sister with a great secret -- one Emília vows to keep. And when Luzia's life is threatened, Emília will risk everything to save her. An enthralling novel of love and courage, loyalty and adventure, that brings to life a faraway time and place, The Seamstress is impeccably drawn, rich in depth and vision, and heralds the arrival of a supremely talented new writer. Publisher: HarperCollins Genre: Fiction; Family & Friendship

Brazil by John Updike
Allusions to Tristan and Isolde dot Updike's fiction, poetry, and even nonfiction, so it is not surprising to find him reimagining their story as a novel. Surprisingly, he places them in the Brazil of the last three decades. His Tristan is a black beach boy, his Isolde the affluent daughter of a career diplomat; their mutual destiny begins when they meet on a Rio beach. Updike's Brazil, described with his customary scrupulous detail, is alien enough to provide a legendary landscape where the lovers must confront tribulations, endure separations and enslavement, survive deadly adventures, and rely on their love literally as their only sustenance. The rich prose is Updike's characteristic own, but he achieves a tone suggesting that of both the medieval troubadours and the modern Latin American fabulists. Publisher: Ballantine Books Genre: Literary Fiction; Classics

Brazil's Modern Architecture by Elisabetta Andeoli
This is the new paperback edition of the most comprehensive survey of twentieth-century Brazilian architecture, analyzed by a new generation of critics and historians. The book covers about 200 buildings and urban designs, presenting key events and projects within a series of thematic chapters. It is extensively illustrated with archival black-and-white and new color photographs as well as drawings and sketches. It offers a fresh reading of Brazil's era of high modernism from the 1930s through the 1960s, placing it in context with regards to earlier and later architectural movements as well as the broad changes taking place in Brazilian culture at the time. The book also charts post-Brasilia developments, including case studies of contemporary projects, showing the relevance of Brazilian architecture within the international scene. Publisher: Phaidon Press Inc. Genre: Nonfiction; Arts, Architecture

Brazil: The Once and Future Country by Marshall C. Eakin
To explain historical and contemporary Brazil for the general reader in a concise yet comprehensive format is not a small feat, but the task is expertly accomplished by a Vanderbilt University history professor. The vastness of the fifth-largest country in the world extends beyond simply its physical size to include a complexity of public and personal life--it is "a nation of paradoxes," in other words. Eakin's knowledge of and love for his subject combine to produce a riveting introduction to the basic events and trends in Brazilian history, politics, economy, society, and culture. From its days as a Portuguese colonial outpost, to its first century of independence with an emperor at its governmental head, to "the darkest and most sinister years in Brazilian history" (from the late 1960s to the early 1970s under military rule), to the present democratic days, Brazil's fascinating story is summarized but not diminished. Eakin concludes his informed account with prescriptions on how the country might realize its potential for movement out of the Third World and into the First. Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Genre: South American Travel

Brazil: A Culinary Journey by Cherie Hamilton
More than a cookbook, Brazil: A Culinary Journey explains how Amerindian, European, and African contributions have come together to form modern Brazilian cookery. The indigenous inhabitants contributed products native to the land, such as corn, cassava, and fish. The Portuguese settlers incorporated native techniques and ingredients, and introduced Portuguese staples, including sausages, olive oil, and wine. The culinary traditions were further fused with the introduction of such ingredients as palm oil and okra brought with African slaves in the twentieth century. European immigration yielded pasta and German pastries. The largest nation in South America, Brazil is home to vast rain forests, pristine tropical beaches, the Amazon River, and one of the region's most interesting cuisines. The recipes presented in Brazil: A Culinary Journey provide a glimpse into the surprisingly diverse repertoire of Brazilian cooking, from the heavily African-influenced cuisine of the Northeast to the Southern cookery, which has been shaped by European immigration. More than 130 recipes range from Feijoada, Brazil's national dish of beans, rice, and various meats (in its many regional variations), to lesser-known dishes, such as Shrimp and Bread Pudding, Crab Soup, and Banana Brittle. Complete with b/w illustrations, photographs, and maps. Publisher: Hippocrene Books Genre: Regional & International Cooking, Food & Wine

Hunted (Vampire Huntress Legend Series #3) by L.A. Banks
In Banks's third overheated hip-hop vampire thriller (after Minion and The Awakening), Damali Richards, a vampire huntress (or "Neteru"), reconnects with her vampire lover Carlos Rivera, whom she thought was killed in the previous novel but who's now serving a penance for his vampiric misdeeds within a modern-day Knights Templar stronghold. In Brazil, where were-creatures have been terrorizing a portion of the rain forest, Damali and Carlos encounter a female vampire possessed, via were-cat infection and flesh-eating, by the bitter memories of a 500-year-old Neteru who lost her life to raping and pillaging conquistadors. Carlos is tempted by the female vampire's offer of joint rule, and Damali must battle to stop an alliance between renegade vampires and demons that promises catastrophe for were-demons, vampires and humans alike. The hip-hop turn to the book's prose alleviates the tedium of a stock genre plot, while the well-conceived and intricate rules of Banks's vampire-inhabited world provide endless opportunities for riffs on the meaning of power and sex that will please lovers of similar purplish philosophical musings found in the vampire tales of Anne Rice and Laurell K. Hamilton. Publisher: St. Martin's Press Genre: Fiction, Thrillers, Fantasy

The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest by Lynne Cherry
In this breathtakingly beautiful picture book, Cherry combines illustrations that reveal a naturalist's reverence for beauty with a mythlike story that explains the ecological importance of saving the rain forests. The text is not a didactic treatise, but a simply told story about a man who falls asleep while chopping down a kapok tree. The forest's inhabitants--snakes, butterflies, a jaguar, and finally a child--each whisper in his ear about the terrible consequences of living in "a world without trees" or beauty, about the interconnectedness of all living things. When the man awakens and sees all the extraordinary creatures around him, he leaves his ax and "walks out of the rain forest." A map showing the earth's endangered forests and the creatures that dwell within ends the book which, like the rain forests themselves, is "wondrous and rare." Ages 4-8. Publisher: Sandpiper Genre: Children's Books, Environment & Nature

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Do you want to share book recommendations that take readers to Brazil? Or do you want to share other thoughts? Please leave a note in the comments!

Be sure to check back next week for another trip in books! Here is what is coming up for the next four Take Me Away Saturday posts:
August 22: The culture of the Aborigines of Australia.
August 29: The African country of Egypt.
September 5: The culture of the Inuit People.
September 12: Trio: the countries of Estonia, Latvia, & Lithuania

The Take Me Away Map of Countries Visited:

If you have reviewed a book I have reviewed, please leave me a message or comment and I will add your link to my post.


  1. I absolutely loved The Seamstress, in fact, think it is one of the best books I read in the last year. That architecture book looks good too. Another wonderful week. Keep up the good work. It is a very enjoyable weekly feature.

  2. I read The Seamstress when Kaye recommended it to me and I really liked it a lot. I've also read

    1.A Window in Copacabana*****: An Inspector Espinosa Mystery by Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza
    2.Child Of The Dark*****: The Diary Of Carolina Maria De Jesus

    Not very much in Brazilian literature I'm afraid. You've really done your homework on this topic, as usual. Very interesting choices.

  3. What a neat idea--and what a great way to find new books to expand our world.

  4. As usual another wonderful post and great books to get to know a country. I so love traveling to other countries through books.
    The Seamstress has been on my TBR list for a little while and now it looks like it will be moving towards the top.

    I have read the entire VHL series by L.A. Banks and it is most of the best if you enjoy vampire stories with a slight twist. The book where they were in Brazil was a very good adventure that exposed cultural issues. Great read.

    The book on the history of Brazil looks interesting to me. I like comprehensive history books as they suggested here to put the pieces together of places I have visited or read about.
    Looking forward to our next country visit.

  5. Saturdays are always educational, thanks to you!

    Thanks once again for this great series of posts!

  6. The Seamstress is on my list!!! There's so many different and interesting books involving Brazil!! I would love to try out some of the recipes from the cookbook!!

  7. I never realized City of God was based on a book! It's one of my most favourite films ever. Thank you and now I will go hunt for the book. :D

  8. And by the way, fyi, to anyone interested, one of the titles in this year's Booker longlist is set in Brazil. Heliopolis by James Scudamore.

  9. This is a great collection of books! I also didn't know that City of God was a book. Or that The Partner or that LA Banks book took place in Brazil.

  10. I think I have a Brazilian Barbie, Carnival.

    I put up a pic of South African Barbie, just for you Rebecca. I'll put a pic of the Brazilian Barbie as soon as I can. Going back to work today.

  11. I'm intrigued by the cookbook.

    The Great Kapok Tree is such a great kids' book! I hadn't thought of it as being set in a specific country, but Brazil does make sense.

  12. I have read The Hunted I really liked it. In fact, I am going to be reading the next three books in that series pretty soon. I definitely recommend The Hunted

  13. again great post! Brazil is a beautiful country and Rio is amazing =)


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