Magazine article New Internationalist

Bahia Blues

Magazine article New Internationalist

Bahia Blues

Article excerpt

Bahia Blues by Yasmina Traboulsi (Arcadia, ISBN 1905147287)

Bahia Blues is a remarkable début novel by an author of Lebanese and Brazilian parentage. It was originally published in 2003 in French, under the title Les Enfants de la Place, winning Traboulsi the Young Francophone Writer's Award that year.

The book is set in the provincial Salvador de Bahia square and the hyper-violent favelas of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. The cast of characters - archetypes all, but drawn with real humanity and warmth - speak directly to the reader in voices that range from honest to evasive, unlettered to poetic. Under the benevolent dictatorship of Maria Aparecida, 'Queen of the Square', the inhabitants go about their various businesses. Pipoca, a diabetic popcorn vendor, nurses an unrequited love for naïve convent caretaker Ivone; Ze and Manuel, HIV-posjtive teenagers, eke out a precarious existence as beggars; and seven-year-old Sergio, already head of his large family, sells sweets and perfumed handkerchiefs to tourists. …

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