Book 5: Brazil (Portuguese) – Dona Flor & her two husbands = Dona Flor e seus dois maridos (Jorge AMADO)

Vadinho, Dona Flor’s first husband, died one Carnaval Sunday, in the morning, when, fancy-dressed as a woman from Bahia, samba dancing in a bloco (Carnaval group), in great animation, on the 2nd of July Square, not far from his house. He didn’t belong to this bloco; he had just mingled with it, along with four other friends, all clad in Bahian costume, and had come from a bar in Cabeça where the whisky flowed freely from the funds of a certain Moysés Alves, a cacao plantation owner, rich and spendthrift.

[my translation]

An early magical realist novel, this is the story of a lovable scoundrel who dies at the outset of the novel (living it up a bit too much at Carnaval) and becomes a ghost in a sort of ménage-à-trois with his widow Dona Flor and her new husband. It’s full of Brazilian joie de vivre and light-hearted naughtiness, and gives a wonderful insider’s insight into the African-influenced culture of northeastern Brazil. It took me a long time to read, as I found Amado’s Portuguese very difficult (lots of slang). But it’s a wonderful plunge into a joyful, exotic – and magical – world.

 

Amado, Jorge (1912-2001), Dona Flor e seus dois maridos, Rio de Janeiro, Record, 2001, ISBN 85-01-05042-3

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