City of God
  • City of God
  • City of God

City of God

5.0 2
by Paulo Lins
     
 

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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

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
After being adapted in 2002 for the screen as City of God, this 1997 novel of Brazil's wretched City of God housing project is finally available in English. Unlike the film, which follows the lives of two childhood friends, the novel is a sprawling epic of gang life in the shantytowns of Rio de Janeiro with a cast of hundreds, mostly Afro-Brazilians, who have names like Carrots, Russian Mouse, Two-Wheeler, Sparrow, and Night Owl and engage in an endless round of drinking, smoking, and robbery. Otavio is so short and scrawny he can hardly handle the weight of a pistol. Hellraiser's father is a drunk, his mother's a pro in the Red Light District, and, worst of all, his brother's a faggot. Knockout rationalizes that killing a member of another gang isn't even a sin; it's doing the locals a favor. Gentle, pot-smoking Rocket longs to escape this world, buy a camera with a shitload of lenses, and win photography prizes. Lins, himself a survivor of the City of God, has a knack for making vignettes of such unremitting desperation remarkably lyrical. Recommended for most collections.-Jack Shreve, Allegany Coll. of Maryland, Cumberland Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A bleak panorama of slum life in Rio's Cidade de Deus (the "City of God") under three decades of gang rule. The basis for a 2002 Brazilian film, this tale defies summary. The movie, at least, imposes structure, via the main character Rocket's point of view, as opposed to the novel's sprawling, free-form litany of unremitting violence amid the blocks and houses of slums. In three sections covering the 1960s, '70s and '80s, Lins follows the exploits of three primary gangsters: Hellraiser, Sparrow and Tiny. A multiethnic horde of minor characters flit in and out of the gangsters' truncated lives as they plot and execute holdups, whack friends, relatives and rivals, obsessively pursue women, drugs, samba prowess, revenge and loot. Rocket, a bit player here, hangs with the Boys, upwardly mobile City dwellers who are into weed, rock concerts and beach parties, but manage to stay in school and avoid becoming thug proteges. An aspiring photographer, Rocket can't bring himself to rob: The potential victims are too nice. Hellraiser introduces Pipsqueak to crime when he enlists the punk sociopath to help in a motel heist. When Hellraiser is wasted by Detective Beelzebub, Pipsqueak, now self-dubbed Tiny, and his best friend Sparrow take control of the City's economic lifeblood, its drug dens. After Tiny hears of a vicious rape/murder, he punishes the culprits Butucatu and Potbelly for infringing his ban on crime against City residents. Gunning for Tiny, Butucatu kills Sparrow. Tiny reigns alone, but not for long-envious of Knockout's good looks, he rapes the hitherto solid citizen's fiancee. This triggers full-blown gang war, which divides the City into zones controlled by Knockout's growing army,and Tiny's increasingly fractious band of cohorts. Much bloodshed later, the chaos in the City endures-only the perpetrators change. Tiny meets his end at the hands of a novice gangster much like his former self. Numbing scenes of horrific carnage and brutality make for painful, but somehow compulsory, reading.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802170101
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
09/28/2006
Pages:
448
Sales rank:
483,930
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)

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