Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Crooked Plow : A Novel by Itamar Vieira Junior ;2019 - translated by Johnny Lorenz from the Portuguese - 2023

 Crooked Plow : a novel by Itamar Vieira Junior ;2019 - translated by Johnny Lorenz from the Portuguese - 2023 - A 2024 International Booker Prize Finalist 

Crooked Plow kept me captivated from the start.  Crooked Plow is set in a community of ancestors of once enslaved people in the Bahia State in North Eastern Brazil.

I recently read a great book focused on Slavery in Brazil, Humans in Shackles: An Atlantic History of Slavery by Ana Lucia Araujo.  She pointed out that five times as many people were transported as slaves to Brazil as to North America.  In Brazil young Portuguese men came without wives which inevitably lead to the social acceptance of sexual exploitation of enslaved women.  The Crooked Plow brilliantly depicts the consequences of this on the descendants of once enslaved persons. (Slavery was outlawed in Brazil in 1888.) It produced women who were used to very hard work and men who took out their low self esteem on the women in their lives through physical abuse and neglect.  

What the International Booker Prize 2024 judges said about The Crooked Plow

‘Bibiana and Belonis√≠a are two sisters whose inheritance arrives in the form of a grandmother’s mysterious knife, which they discover while playing, then unwrap from its rags and taste. The mouth of one sister is cut badly and the tongue of the other is severed, injuries that bind them together like scar tissue, though they bear the traces in different ways. Set in the Bahia region of Brazil, where approximately one third of all enslaved Africans were sent during the height of the slave trade, the novel invites us into the deep-rooted relationships of Afro-Brazilian and Indigenous peoples to their lands and waters – including the ways these communities demand love, gods, song, and dream – despite brutal colonial disruptions. An aching yet tender story of our origins of violence, of how we spend our lives trying to bloom love and care from them, and of the language and silence we need to fuel our tending.’  

"This powerful debut novel charts the plight of Brazil's poorest farmers scrabbling for subsistence on the land their enslaved ancestors worked. Initially centered on two sisters whose lives are changed forever by a catastrophic accident, the book explores themes of generational poverty and political strife through the lens of family bonds and the eyes of a once-revered Afro-Brazilian divinity." 
The Washington Post

Itamar Vieira Junior was born in Salvador, Bahia, in 1979. He holds a doctorate in Ethnic and African Studies. Before Crooked Plow, he published a collection of short stories entitled The Executioner's Prayer, which was nominated for Brazil's biggest literary award, the Jabuti. Crooked Plow won the prestigious 2018 LeYa Award in Portugal.

Mel Ulm 
The Reading Life 


1 comment:

Buried In Print said...

This sounds un-missable: thanks, Mel!