Brazil

( 5 )

Overview

They meet by chance on Copacabana Beach: Tristao Raposo, a poor black teen from the Rio slums, surviving day to day on street smarts and the hustle, and Isabel Leme, an upper-class white girl, treated like a pampered slave by her absent though very powerful father. Convinced that fate brought them together, betrayed by families who threaten to tear them apart, Tristao and Isabel flee to the farthest reaches of Brazil's wild west — unaware of the astonishing destiny that awaits ...
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Brazil

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Overview

They meet by chance on Copacabana Beach: Tristao Raposo, a poor black teen from the Rio slums, surviving day to day on street smarts and the hustle, and Isabel Leme, an upper-class white girl, treated like a pampered slave by her absent though very powerful father. Convinced that fate brought them together, betrayed by families who threaten to tear them apart, Tristao and Isabel flee to the farthest reaches of Brazil's wild west — unaware of the astonishing destiny that awaits them . . .

Spanning twenty-two years, from the mid-sixties to the late eighties, BRAZIL surprises and embraces the reader with its celebration of passion, loyalty, and New World innocence.

"A tour de force . . . Spectacular." — Time

"Updike's novel, as tender as it is erotic, becomes a magnificently wrought love story . . . . Beautifully written." — Detroit Free Press

A black 19-year-old street boy and a pale 18-year-old upper-class girl meet, fall in love, and end up running away from her rich father. 2 cassettes.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Nothing Updike has written before prepares the reader for this book, a tale of doomed lovers with wry reference to the Tristan and Isolde legend. Black street kid Tristao Raposo, 19, first sees blonde, convent-educated Isabel Leme, 18, on a beach in Rio; both recognize that they are fated to be lovers. He is sophisticated in the ruthless rapacity of the poor; she is ``accustomed to the logic and wealth of power,'' but both are starry-eyed idealists and romantics who decide to defy Isabel's diplomat father and run away together. Forcibly parted for two years by her father's henchmen, the pair eventually reunite and begin a series of ill-fated adventures that lead them into the Brazilian jungle and into the heart of darkness. Recounting the lovers' tragic trajectory from heedless passion to degrading toil to false security to ironic, brutal death, Updike draws a panoramic picture of Brazil over the past three decades, depicting a country in social and economic chaos with a huge, despairing underclass and a largely heedless wealthy population. In settings as varied as the country's topography--Rio, Sao Paulo, Brasilia, the gold mining area of the Dourados, and the jungles of the Mato Grosso--Updike delineates the tyranny of the white men over people of color, the despoilation of the land, the demise of the spiritual dimension in the modern world. He has assimiliated an astonishing amount of knowledge about flora and fauna, native tribal customs and lore, including sorcery. Indeed, it comes as no surprise when the narrative segues into magical realism. Despite its emphasis on the enobling qualities of true love, this is a dark book that speaks of ``a steady decay from birth to death.'' Even Updike's language is different here: the intellectual legerdemain, the shimmering metaphors and caustic humor are largely abandoned for a straightforward narrative prose. Whether or not this will be the ``breakthrough'' book to a larger audience that his publisher foresees, this is an intriguing story that takes Updike into new territory in many senses of the word. 75,000 first printing; BOMC selection. Feb.
Library Journal
Setting his 16th novel in Brazil, Updike explores the passion that flares up between Tristao, a black street boy, and upper-class Isobel. This BOMC alternate has a 75,000-copy first printing.
Kirkus Reviews
The indefatigable Updike only occasionally succeeds here. Tristo, a black teenager from the favela, encounters Isabel, a rich and sheltered young daughter of the elite, one afternoon on Rio's Copacabana beach—and when Isabel takes him home and gives her maidenhead to him, both kids discover a love union like that of their storied counterparts, Romeo and Juliet. With Tristo, Isabel flees Rio, ahead of her father's armed posse, and they make it as far as So Paulo. There, Isabel is wrenched away—but this is only the first of a number of forced (and false) partings, around which, together, Isabel and Tristo will turn to gold-mining, prostitution, living among jungle Indians, and finally re-civilization. Isabel will even resort to the help of magic to have Tristo returned to her, at the price of a shaman-induced change in respective skin-colors for them both—Updike's woolliest turn in a story fanciful with twists and turns, touristy aper‡us, and sexual philosophy. Like a slab of abused plywood, the novel is forever coming apart into its separate laminates. Updike at times (especially when he's trying to write suspenseful scenes, or violent ones) seems to be using the exotic foreignness of his setting as an excuse for over-vividness, somewhat like Karl May's old German romances of the American Indian. Elsewhere, more cunningly, he seems to be subverting some of Latin-American magic realism's more bloated clich‚s by overturning them into a kind of realistic-magic fiction. But, again, as in the African-based The Coup, he seems to think he needs another continent to try to tell the story of a wholly other—and maybe to tell a story, period. The Updikean intelligence anddraughtsmanship and sex-awe constantly obtrude, weakening the narrative big picture, studding the book with perceptions and alertness galore but never with quite the air of exotic metaphysical enchantment the novelist seems to seek. Saul Bellow's finest book, Henderson the Rain King, is still unchallenged as the only American novel of our era to do that. (First printing of 75,000; Book-of-the-Month Dual Selection for March)
From the Publisher
“Steamy . . . breathtaking . . . In Updike’s novel, our vast South American neighbor emerges as a country both ancient and new.”—The New Yorker
 
“There is a wonderful drive to the novel, true lyricism, real drama. . . . Updike has rare insight into the psychology of sexual behavior and the mysterious, almost otherworldly devotedness Tristão and Isabel share.”—Chicago Tribune
 
“The book [is] thrilling, not only by its own rights, as an action-driven narrative designed to thrill, but also as an instance of a contemporary master, one whom we thought we had figured out long ago, daring to reinvent himself before our jaded eyes.”—The New Criterion
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780449911631
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/28/1996
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 729,606
  • Product dimensions: 5.41 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Meet the Author

John Updike
John Updike was born in Shillington, Pennsylvania, in 1932. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954 and spent a year in Oxford, England, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. From 1955 to 1957 he was a member of the staff of The New Yorker. His novels have won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Rosenthal Foundation Award, and the William Dean Howells Medal. In 2007 he received the Gold Medal for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. John Updike died in January 2009.

Biography

With an uncommonly varied oeuvre that includes poetry, criticism, essays, short stories, and novels, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner John Updike helped to change the face of late-20th-century American literature.

Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, Updike graduated summa cum laude from Harvard in 1954. Following a year of study in England, he joined the staff of The New Yorker, establishing a relationship with the magazine that continued until his death in January, 2009. For more than 50 years, he lived in two small towns in Massachusetts that inspired the settings for several of his stories.

In 1958, Updike's first collection of poetry was published. A year later, he made his fiction debut with The Poorhouse Fair. But it was his second novel, 1960's Rabbit, Run, that forged his reputation and introduced one of the most memorable characters in American fiction. Former small-town basketball star Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom struck a responsive chord with readers and critics alike and catapulted Updike into the literary stratosphere.

Updike would revisit Angstrom in 1971, 1981, and 1990, chronicling his hapless protagonist's jittery journey into undistinguished middle age in three melancholy bestsellers: Rabbit Redux, Rabbit Is Rich, and Rabbit at Rest. A concluding novella, "Rabbit Remembered," appeared in the 2001 story collection Licks of Love.

Although autobiographical elements appear in the Rabbit books, Updike's true literary alter ego was not Harry Angstrom but Harry Bech, a famously unproductive Jewish-American writer who starred in his own story cycle. In between -- indeed, far beyond -- his successful series, Updike went on to produce an astonishingly diverse string of novels. In addition, his criticism and short fiction became popular staples of distinguished literary publications.

Good To Know

Updike first became entranced by reading when he was a young boy growing up on an isolated farm in Pennsylvania. Afflicted with psoriasis and a stammer, he escaped his self-consciousness by immersing himself in drawing, writing, and reading.

An accomplished artist, Updike accepted a one-year fellowship to study painting at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Arts at Oxford University. He decided to attend Harvard University because he was a big fan of the school's humor magazine, The Harvard Lampoon.

One of the most respected authors of the 20th century, Updike won every major literary prize in America, including the Guggenheim Fellow, the Rosenthal Award, the National Book Award in Fiction, the O. Henry Prize, the American Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Union League Club Abraham Lincoln Award, the National Arts Club Medal of Honor, and the National Medal of the Arts.

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    1. Also Known As:
      John Hoyer Updike (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 18, 1932
    2. Place of Birth:
      Shillington, Pennsylvania
    1. Date of Death:
      January 27, 2009
    2. Place of Death:
      Beverly Farms, MA

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2008

    Willing Suspension of Disbelief

    The entire story required the reader to disregard logic and any type of true emotion. The characters were entirley unbelievable and it was impossible to make any connection. Don't waste your time on this book even if you are an Updike fan. I will never look at a yam the same way again.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2008

    Terrible

    I read this book for a book club. It was just awful. I know Updike does better than this effort. Not worth your time to read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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