Recommendations for novels set in Brazil?
February 4, 2015 11:40 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to be traveling to Brazil next year and in anticipation, I'd like to read some novels set there. The trip will definitely include Rio de Janeiro, but other places are still up in the air. Nevertheless, I'm interested in good stories, even in they are set in Brazil but not Rio.

I'm specifically looking for books in English (though translations are fine), since I don't read Portuguese. I'm open to good stories regardless of whether they are contemporary or historic, though the more grounded they are in an actual Brazilian setting, the better. Bonus points for mysteries.

(I've looked at a previous question regarding books about Brazil, and will check out some non-fiction about itas well, but here I'm really looking for fiction suggestions.) Thanks!
posted by Caz721 to Society & Culture (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
If you're open to graphic novels, Daytripper by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá is gorgeous.
posted by wsquared at 11:58 AM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh I am so excited that you've never read Machado de Assis. You have so much in store! He's not contemporary but you'll be startled at just how contemporary he seems.
posted by janey47 at 12:02 PM on February 4, 2015 [3 favorites]

Aluisio Azevedo's "O Cortiço" (The Slum).
posted by Neekee at 12:03 PM on February 4, 2015

I liked Brasyl by Ian MacDonald. It's fast-paced science fiction set in the modern favelas of (I think) Rio de Janeiro and in conquistador times.
posted by daisyk at 12:04 PM on February 4, 2015

I'm partial to the works of Jorge Amado.
posted by elgilito at 12:49 PM on February 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

Ann patchett is not Brazilian, but her book state of wonder is set in Brazil, and it's a bloody good book.
posted by smoke at 1:59 PM on February 4, 2015

Check out the historical novels from talk show host and polymath Jô Soares. O Xangô de Baker Street, published in English as A Samba for Sherlock, features Sherlock Holmes investigating a murder in Rio de Janeiro while visiting there in the 1880s.
posted by dreaming in stereo at 4:05 PM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

Can't believe no one has mentioned Rubem Fonseca yet. Vast Emotions and Imperfect Thoughts is well worth going out of your way to find an out of print copy of the English translation - Thomas Pynchon meets the detective novel.
posted by nightrecordings at 4:38 PM on February 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh! And Child of Dark: The Diary of Carolina Maria de Jesus. Written in the 50's and 60's, this woman salvaged paper from the garbage so she could not only keep this diary, but so she could sell the paper scraps to afford food for her children while living in the favelas (slums) of Sao Paulo. The fact that it is a diary is part of what makes it so readable, and more importantly, human. I found this book in high school and used to sneak into the library on my lunch break to read it bit by bit.
posted by nightrecordings at 5:07 PM on February 4, 2015

I've read a couple of the Inspector Espinoza novels written by a Brazilian. I thought they were quite good, above average.
posted by OmieWise at 5:49 PM on February 4, 2015

This is kind of an off-the-wall suggestion since it's set in future, post-apocalyptic Brazil, but The Summer Prince. It's YA and not like, a great work of literature or anything, but it's a fun, easy read that does attempt to incorporate the culture.
posted by Alexandra Michelle at 6:30 PM on February 4, 2015

A good chunk towards the beginning of Foucault's Pendulum is set in Brazil.
posted by milk white peacock at 8:43 PM on February 4, 2015

elgilito: "I'm partial to the works of Jorge Amado."

So am I : Dona Flor is nice.
posted by nicolin at 12:35 AM on February 5, 2015

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