genre urban

Transparent City

A Vanity Fair “Hot Type” book, A Globe and Mail best book of 2018, a Lit Hub favorite book of the year, a World Literature Today notable translation, & winner of the José Saramago Prize

“Darkly pretty...peppered with poetry...These disparate stories are woven into a beautiful narrative that touches on government corruption, the privatization of water, the dangers of extracting oil for wealth, and the bastardization of religion for profit.. The novel reads like a love song to a tortured, desperately messed-up city that is undergoing remarkable transformations." - Publishers Weekly

“In a crumbling apartment block in the Angolan city of Luanda, families work, laugh, scheme, and get by. In the middle of it all is the melancholic Odonato, nostalgic for the country of his youth and searching for his lost son. As his hope drains away and as the city outside his doors changes beyond all recognition, Odonato’s flesh becomes transparent and his body increasingly weightless. A captivating blend of magical realism, scathing political satire, tender comedy, and literary experimentation, Transparent City offers a gripping and joyful portrait of urban Africa quite unlike any before yet published in English, and places Ondjaki, indisputably, among the continent’s most accomplished writers.”

(A special thank you to book club member, Carol Weldon for the suggestion.)

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Captains of the Sands

'Amado is Brazil's most illustrious and venerable novelist.'—The New York Times

"A Brazilian Lord of the Flies, about a group of boys who live by their wits and daring in the slums of Bahia. They call themselves 'Captains of the Sands,' a gang of orphans and runaways who live by their wits and daring in the torrid slums and sleazy back alleys of Bahia. Led by fifteen-year-old 'Bullet,' the band—including a crafty liar named 'Legless,' the intellectual 'Professor,' and the sexually precocious 'Cat'—pulls off heists and escapades against the right and privileged of Brazil. But when a public outcry demands the capture of the 'little criminals,' the fate of these children becomes a poignant, intensely moving drama of love and freedom in a shackled land.

Captains of the Sands captures the rich culture, vivid emotions, and wild landscape of Bahia with penetrating authenticity and brilliantly displays the genius of Brazil’s most acclaimed author."

A special thank you to book club member, Kaman Maxwell for the suggestion.

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City of God

"The searing novel on which the internationally acclaimed hit film was based, City of God is a gritty, gorgeous tour de force from one of Brazil’s most notorious slums. Cidade de Deus: a place where the streets are awash with narcotics, where violence can erupt at any moment over drugs, money, and love—but also a place where the samba beat rocks till dawn, where the women are the most beautiful on earth, and where one young man wants to escape his background and become a photographer.

When City of God erupted on screens worldwide, it became one of the most critically and commercially successful foreign films of recent years. But few were aware of the story behind the film. Written by Paulo Lins, who grew up in the favela (shantytown) Cidade de Deus in Rio e Janeiro and who spent years researching its gang history, City of God began life as a coruscating, harrowing novelistic account of twenty years in the illicit pursuits of the youth gangs born from the favela. Now available in English for the first time, City of God is a raw, powerful portrait of the countless millions of poor people all over the world."

A special thank you to book club member, Caity Grieg for the suggestion.

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