The Brazil of the imagination is shattered in Samba Dreamers, a novel of two Brazilians in America who wrestle with the myths of movies, politics, and the American Dream. José Francisco Verguerio Silva, fleeing the brutal Brazilian dictatorship, arrives at Los Angeles International Airport and decides he will be Americanized at all costs. He gets a job driving a bus for a Hollywood tour bus company, gets married and fathers twins, yet the Dream remains elusive as he wrestles with flashbacks of his prison torture. His relationship with Rosea Socorro Katz, the crazed daughter of Hollywood’s Brazilian star Carmen Socorro, proves to be more harrowing and dangerous than what he bargained for. With his life in shambles, Joe realizes that the American Dream, just like the Brazilian dictatorship, was built on lies. Joe returns to Rio de Janeiro to face the demons he fled, but Rosea drowns in the dream of the Brazil and the Amazon utopia that never was. Laced with fantastic tales of bird-boys and cannibal rituals, it spins a compelling story of desperation as it reminds us that American freedom and the myth of unbridled opportunity can also consume and destroy.
Kathleen gives an overview of the book:
A large fern covered my view. Slowly I moved the greenery aside. There, I saw my first Amazon: large, her skin painted with black genipapo dye. The long wound on her shoulder, smeared with balsam, opened slightly as she prepared her bow. A twine belt around her waist cut into her thick flesh. A magnificent cluster of purple flowers dangled from a tree above her. She raised her bow, shot her arrow and brought down a capuchin; she scoffed at its small size and stuffed the poor fellow into a bag made of human hair.
I was born in Rio de Janeiro but have lived most of my life in the United States. Consequently, my work often reflects the conflict between the Brazilian and the American culture: the sensual and the pragmatic; the myth of self- determination and the myth of El Dorado. My...
"Samba Dreamers" is a dark, fantastical and, indeed, brilliant cautionary tale for those who search out paradise without first confronting -- and defeating -- their inner demons. If Nathanael West...