Carolina Maria de Jesus (1914-1977), nicknamed Bitita, was a destitute black Brazilian woman born in the rural interior who migrated to the industrial city of Sao Paulo. This is her autobiography, which includes details about her experiences of race relations and sexual intimidation.
An often riveting account of a social reality that sheds light on Brazilian culture today.
An immediate best seller when it was published in Brazil in 1960, Jesus's Quarto de Despejo, the diary of a woman living in the slums of Sao Paulo, contained unusually vivid descriptions of the lives of the very poor. Its English translation, Child of the Dark 1962, was equally successful, as were translations in several other languages. The success of the book allowed Jesus to move out of the slums and continue writing. Through the efforts of her biographer, Robert M. Levine of the University of Miami The Life and Death of Carolina Maria de Jesus, Univ. of New Mexico, 1995, some of these writings are finally being translated into English. Bitita's Diary Jornal de Bitita, the last volume Jesus finished prior to her death in 1977, is a poignant description of her childhood in the Brazilian central interior state of Minas Gerais. It is important for providing a look at Brazil during the 1920s and 1930s through the eyes of an impoverished black child, a view rare in any country at any time. Sometimes simplistic, sometimes profound, this is a valuable volume for any Latin American research collection.Mark L. Grover, Brigham Young Univ., Provo, UT
An autobiographical memoir of a 20th-century black Brazilian author who surmounted obstacles of poverty, class, and color, revealing details about a world virtually unknown to contemporary educated Brazilians. Her work as a domestic servant in the homes of prominent figures in S<~a>o Paulo, allowing her access to books and further learning, came to an end when she became pregnant by a white foreigner. Living in a shantytown, she kept a diary on scraps of paper sewed into notebooks. And what is your excuse for not doing any creative writing today? With the help of a journalist who "discovered" her, her diary became a best-seller in 1960. She received little money, however, and after an unsuccessful attempt to settle in a middle-class neighborhood, she bought a small piece of land and continued to write poetry, short stories, and fragments of plays and novels. The chapters that comprise this autobiography were originally written in the early 1970s. Includes an afterword offering historical context. No index. Paper edition unseen, $19.95. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.