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Antônio Torres

Writer from Bahia, born in 13 September 1940

The Land

Original title: Essa terra (1976)
Author: Antônio Torres
Translator: Margaret A. Neves

First published in Brazil 10 years ago, this is a sad, simple, lyrical novel about a poor family’s dashed hopes when a favored son returns from the big city to commit suicide. The town of Junco–in the state of Bahia in rural Brazil–is a dusty, dirt-poor, primitive place– “the end of the world,” according to the narrator, a young man named Totonhim. The hopes and dreams of everyone in the village lie in some way with Totonhim’s brother Nelo, who left to become a success in fabled, far-off Sao Paulo. “Your star brightened our dark nights,” says Totonhim–but when Nelo finally returns, drunken and penniless, it’s to hang himself. The rest of the novel (told partially from the points of view of Nelo’s mother and father) shows the family trying to come to grips with this catastrophe–to come to grips, really, with what has always been the hopelessness and cruelty of their lives. By the day of Nelo’s funeral, his deluded mother has decided to reiect his death completely–thinking Totonhim is Nelo–and Totonhim himself decides to follow in his brother’s footsteps and leave Junco, even though he knew that the big city is only a shining illusion. At heart, a political novel, and a despairing one, at that, but uplifted by Torres’ melodic prose and intimate knowledge of rural Brazil. This is the first of his three novels to be published in the US. – Kirkus Review

The Land_Antonio Torres

 

Paperback: 130 pages
Translator: Margaret A. Neves
Publisher: Readers International (1987)
ISBN-10: 0930523253
ISBN-13: 978-0930523251
Click here to buy this book

Blues for a Lost Childhood

Original title: Balada da infância perdida (1986)
Author: Antônio Torres
Translator: John Parker

Brazilian Torres’ second novel in English (The Land, 1986) strings together an account, personal and political, of the eternal conflict between the Northeast “Backlands” and the urban South, especially Sao Paulo. The novel, composed of a collage of materials (poems, songs, tall tales, fantasies, etc.), is ultimately too muddy, however, to be very memorable. Part of the problem is an alcoholic narrator, an insomniac, and his modified stream-of-consciousness narration that, when it settles down, is overly casual and anecdotal. He is fired from his office job for reading (especially The Great Gatsby) during office hours and stares at his wall, where pictures and memories, odd bits of news and hallucinations appear, all usually mishmashed together into a sort of history: “When I was twenty, they stuffed a dictatorship down my throat. Now I’ve reached maturity I have to carry the weight of my exhaustion.” Most notable are hallucinations of  “the most beautiful procession of little blue coffins,”  as well as images of tanks connected to a 1964 coup; and a long, rambling saga about Calunga, his older cousin, who is forced back to his native town to die after a long career as student, marksman, reporter, war hero, drank, and so forth: “The Communists are to blame.” Though the narrator fails to attend Calunga’s funeral after his decline, he provides a bio of their misadventures together (gonorrhea, lots of drinking, a satire of trendy types at a panel discussion, adventures in the military), along with details of rural life, conversations with his mother, and an account of a brief love affair. Torres is clearly a trustworthy guide to Brazil–but his sad, lyrical ode, while representative, doesn’t pull together and sing. — Kirkus Reviews

Blues for a Lost Childhood_Antonio Torres

Paperback: 201 pages
Publisher: Readers International (1989)
Translator: J. Parker
ISBN-10: 0930523687
ISBN-13: 978-0930523688
Click here to buy it
Hardcover: 201 pages
Publisher: Readers International (1 Oct. 1989)
Translator: John Parker
ISBN-10: 0930523679
ISBN-13: 978-0930523671
Click here to buy it

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