A Parisian friend asked me to suggest him a book about Brazilian history. He got a very quick answer: “1808 – How a mad queen, a fearful prince, and a corrupt court deceived Napoleon and changed the history of Portugal and Brazil forever.”
1808 is one of those books that once you started you have a hard time to put it away; easy to read, fast paced, fun, but still very informative. Laurentino Gomes writes in a style similar to E. H. Gombrich in the notorious Little History of the World.
Enjoy a tiny sample of it:
“Ironically, by moving to Brazil, João VI lost it forever. When the court returned to Portugal in 1821, the new country was ready to walk on its own two legs, out from under Portugal’s tutelage. The result was Brazil’s independence, in 1822.”
Even though I am not aware of any translation, the book is readable for anyone fluent in Spanish or with an intermediate level of Portuguese.
Link for the book in Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/1808-Laurentino-Gomes/dp/8576653206
Laurentino Gomes, the acclaimed author, wrote a continuation 1822, which, in my opinion is not as powerful as the first book, but still worth reading.
Since we are here, my personal suggestion to Brazilian literature:
Machado de Assis – Dom Casmurro.
High school teachers describe this author as Brazil’s undisputedly most important writer ever.
Jorge Amado – Captains of the Sand
Touching description of delinquent and abandoned kids as romanticized thieves in Bahia.
Lévi-Strauss – Sad Tropics
Part travel book, also known as the ethnology bible, this book is not easy to digest, but you won’t forget it. Okay, it was not written by a Brazilian but it was impossible for me not to mention this masterpiece.
Magazine: Revista Piaui http://revistapiaui.estadao.com.br/edicao-52/
Intelligent, thought provoking, ironic, impartial, deliciously written, funny. Full of articles that are so well written that remind you of how bad a writer you are.