Brazil: A Western Set in the Cacao Jungle

I was looking for something utterly Brazilian, and I think I found it. Jorge Amado’s The Violent Land is about cacao plantations, and it has elements from Amado’s own experiences, since he was the son of a cocoa planter. The book is set in the the time when cocoa was taking its big steps towards big business, a product with potential to become a major economic player.

A lot of blood was shed in the region of no man’s land of Bahia. Men were claiming land on a first come first served basis, which obviously lead to even more bloodshed. It sounds like it was a lot worse than the wild west; hatred, shootings, revenge were typical everyday actions.

There are two major players in the field, and there is virgin land in between their plantations, and of course both sides want to claim the land for themselves. Other people want to have their part of the possible fortune, and they choose a side in the battle of the two planters.

Poverty makes people do extreme things, so does greed. Both are well-represented in the book. It is sad to read about three sisters who have security in life, then lose their men, and their only option is prostitution. It most likely is reality for many women in developing countries, although I’d like to think that most would have family to support them through hard times. I know reality can be harsh, but still, three sisters sharing the same fate…

I have to be honest and say that this book did not live up to my expectations. I expected a lot more, because the subject is fascinating, and the author knows what he is writing about. I quite frankly lost focus throughout the book, because the story was not written in an engaging way.

This book has been praised by many, and I can honestly not say what went wrong for me. Something was missing. I did not have any feelings towards the main characters. I do condemn many actions, but the people themselves were simply random, distant people to me. Politics, violence and romance in the same book should keep me entertained throughout the book, but not this time. I am interested in the history of Brazil, and the fantastic nature, but while writing this blog post I have already forgotten most of this book. I might give the author another chance though, because his other books seem interesting.

 

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