Summary and book reviews of Brazil by Errol Uys

Brazil

By Errol Uys

Brazil
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  • Paperback: Jul 2000,
    800 pages.

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Book Summary

Through the lives of two powerful families, Brazil depicts five turbulent centuries in the history of a remarkable land. From colony to kingdom, from empire to nation, Brazil is filled with memorable people living through one of the great adventures in human history.

The Cavalcantis are among the original settlers and establish the classic Brazilian plantation — vast, powerful, built with slave labor. The da Silvas represent the second element in both contemporary and historical Brazil: pathfinders and prospectors. For generations, these adventurers have set their eyes on El Dorado, which they ultimately find — in a coffee fortune at São Paulo.

Brazil is an intensely human story — brutal and violent, tender and passionate. Perilous explorations through the Brazilian wilderness . . . the perpetual clash of pioneer and native, visionary and fortune hunter, master and slave, zealot and exploiter . . . the thunder of war on land and sea as European powers and South American nations pursue their territorial conquests. . . the triumphs and tragedies of a people who built a nation covering half the South American continent . . . all are here in one spell-binding saga.

Prologue
The Tupiniquin
May 1491

The boy was sitting beside a branch of the river that marked the end of his people's place. These lesser waters struggled through the clan's fields, their way broken here and there by the trunks of fallen trees, until their stream was lost in this green island.

He was Aruanã, son of Pojucan, and stood taller than most boys of his age. His mother, Obapira, had counted the first four or five seasons following his birth but then stopped, for the next age that mattered would come when he was ready for manhood. Now he had reached this stage. His limbs were well formed, his shoulders sturdy and straight. His jet-black hair was shaved back in a half-moon above the temples, from ear to ear, and his eyebrows were plucked. His lower lip was bored through in the custom of his people, and in it he wore a plug of white bone as large as his thumb.

Aruanã dangled his feet in the cool water. No one ever came here, because it was too ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
Washington Post

Uys has interwoven five centuries of Brazilian history and generations of two fictional families into a massive, richly detailed novel, Michenerian in sweep and scope, informative and intriguing...Uys has a sense of pace and an eye for detail that rarely fail him.

Nashville Banner

The reader is entranced from the moment he is introduced to the young cannibal Aruanã until the story ends with Amilcar da Silva gazing from a Brasília skyscraper at the vast sertão, the heart of the country that was unconquerable for nearly five centuries. The writing skill of Uys is evident in the way he has taken graphic stories from periods of Brazil’s history and developed them into a balanced novel that equals any of the epics of James A Michener.

New York Times Book Review

This is not a caricature of Brazil, a country of endless carnival and happy samba dancers. Brazil offers a painless introduction to a country and people whose development has a sweep and drama similar to our own.

Publishers Weekly

Pulsing with vigor, this is a vast novel to tell the story of a vast country.

Magill Book Reviews

Uys’s unsentimentalized chronicle combines great adventure with an impressive level of research. His intermingling of real historical figures with the fictional Cavalcantis and da Silvas create an aura of verisimilitude that makes history come alive. The epic history of Brazil has been accorded its due in this panoramic novel.

Booklist

Uys smoothly interweaves a series of self-contained episodes into a sprawling saga that spans five centuries. The richness and authenticity of the setting and the historical detail make the investment in this lavish drama eminently worthwhile.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Brazil is a family epic written in a lucid, flowing style….A saga both simple and direct, yet deeply evocative and dramatic throughout…A reader is left with the wish that there were a thousand pages more.

Estado do São Paulo

Dynamic, excellently researched, free from the eternal stereotypes about Brazil.

L’Express, Paris

A masterpiece Brazil has the look and feel of an enchanted virgin forest, a totally new and original world for the reader-explorer to discover.

Wilson Martins, Jornal do Brasil

Uys has accomplished what no Brazilian author from José de Alencar to Jorge Amado was able to do. He is the first to write our national epic in all its decisive episodes, from the indigenous civilization and the El Dorado myth, everything converging like the segments of a rose window to that reborn and metamorphosed myth that is Brasilia. He is the first outsider to see us with total honesty and sympathy and full empathy with the decisive moments in our history and their spiritual meaning. Descriptions like those of the war with Paraguay are unsurpassed in our literature and evoke the great passages of War and Peace.

Le Figaro, Paris

No one before knew how to bring to life Brazil and her history. Uys’s characters are brilliant and colorful, combining elements of the best swashbuckler with those worthy of deepest reflection. Most stunning is that it took a South African, now a naturalized American, to evoke so perfectly the grand but interrupted dream that is Brazil.

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