Wednesday, August 20, 2014

G383 A hero for the people: Stories of the Brazilian Backlands by Arthur Powers

General Information:

Name of Book: A Hero for the People: Stories of the Brazilian Backlands

Author: Arthur Powers

About the Author:
(From Book Junkie Promotions Website)

Genre: General Fiction/Literary
Add to GR Button

Buy the Book

About the Author

03_Arthur PowersArthur Powers went to Brazil in 1969 and lived most his adult life there. From 1985 to 1997, he and his wife served with the Franciscan Friars in the Amazon, doing pastoral work and organizing subsistence farmers and rural workers’ unions in a region of violent land conflicts. The Powers currently live in Raleigh North Carolina.
Arthur received a Fellowship in Fiction from the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, three annual awards for short fiction from the Catholic Press Association, and 2nd place in the 2008 Tom Howard Fiction Contest. His poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in many magazines & anthologies. He is the author of A Hero For The People: Stories From The Brazilian Backlands (Press 53, 2013) and The Book of Jotham (Tuscany Press, 2013).

Author Links

ISBN: 978-1-935708-83-4

Publisher: Press 53

Year it was published: 2013

Overall theme:

I'm not sure what lesson I should have learned from it: the stories all take place in Brazil prior to 2000s, and they encompass different areas of Brazil, from country areas to Rio de Janeiro, mostly dealing with victims and people who have little to no voice.


"Set in the vast and sometimes violent landscape of contemporary Brazil, this is a gorgeous collection of stories-wise, hopeful, and forgiving, but clear-eyed in its exploration of the toll taken on the human heart by greed, malice, and the lust for land." -Debra Murphy, Publisher of Idyll's Press, Founder of

1. The Bridge 

Setting and Date: Northern Goias, 1987


Written in first person narrative, the man and his friend, Jack Hogan, agree to go to a bishop to talk. On the way there as they were driving over the bridge, it is revealed that Jack has a secret sin he wants to do. On the way back to Northern Goias, the narrator drives the car when he and Jack stop and begin to study the bridge and then  something unexpected happens.

2. Back Country People 

Setting and Date: Tocantins, 1992


Ze Dias, who owns a truck and lives in a place that lacks cars, is asked to help a boy and his father who's suffering from malaria, to drive them over to Pedro Afonso. While driving to pick up the father, Ze Dias reflects on the way people live as well as issues that they face.

3. Hate

Setting and Date: Massachusetts and Northern Goias, 1989


In first person narrative, the narrator introduces Dave Sorensen who comes home from Brazil. When they meet this time, the conversation turns to ghosts, and Dave tells them a story of Tumbao, a despicable man from a local village that had done hated things, as well as his history and what Tumbao has to face in terms of his life and whether or not he can be forgiven.

4. Claudio 

Setting and Date: Northern Goias, 1986


Maria, a young lady who has recently gotten married gets complimented by a man from the city named Claudio and then she begins to imagine life with Claudio versus that of her husband Joao as well as reminisce about her past before she got married.

5. Stone

Setting and Date: Western Bahia, 1934-1964


Epitacio dos Santos grants his follower, Domingoes Pereira land that he can use with the condition that he and others always have to acknowledge him as owner of the land, which he does. However, after his death, Leonidas, Mauro and Antenor at first sign the papers without giving the messenger the royal treatment, and then as years pass and the messenger changes, the brothers refuse to sign the paper acknowledging Epitacio dos Santos as the owner, becoming suspicious. Eventually their deeds lead to some deadly consequences.

6. A Hero for the People 

Setting and Date: Southern Para, 1988


Brother Michel agrees to become a companion to Gil and arrives to Barreira das Almas until the old man dies and then they can close the center down. As time passes, Brother Michel becomes friendly with the locals as well as learning their stories and so forth. Eventually, Brother Michel helps the locals hold on to their lands against the local politicians.

7. Two Foxes 

Setting and Date: Tocantins, 1991


In first person narrative, a man is driving with his friend Adao, and Adao recalls a story about the time he injured the fox and what he decides to do in the end.

8. Four Liters of Wild Honey 

Setting and Date: Tocantins, 1991


Joao and Marilda, brother and sister, are selling wild honey when an incident occurs and they profit from it. Although money is meaningless to Joao, he wants for his sister to understand the difficulty in procuring the product.

9. The Moving 

Setting and Date: Espirito Santo, 1969


Maria is married to Ze, and they are moving from their fazenda. Maria recalls their life together from the time they met to marriage and to when they moved the first time, along with Maria's younger sister Estrela as well when they moved and what it was like for the family.

 10. Famine 

Setting and Date: The Brazilian Northeast, c 1970


A man and a boy had some truck troubles, and it would have been okay except the fact they have food in the truck and it is during the famine. While they are trying to fix the truck, the hungry residents come out and begin to beg for food.

11. Gilsa 

Setting and Date: Rio de Janeiro, 1979


Ademar, a man from a wealthy family, marries Gilsa who is poor and is noticed by Nelson Braga who has a very colorful past of making girls pregnant as well as being a king in the slum. Often after their marriage the two would come back to Morro Vermelho, and later on there's a confrontation as well as a choice to be made.

12. Come Into My House and Stay 

Setting and Date: Rio de Janeiro, 1976


Rosenthal, a man of Chinese/Jewish origin (Chinese mother and Jewish father,) is in love with Lydia who doesn't reciprocate his emotions back. Lydia married and had a daughter with someone else and after being dumped traveled to Brazil as a priest. While there she lived in slums and took in some children as well as helping others. When her husband passed away, Rosenthal began to communicate with her while she wrote back and eventually the two met in Brazil and have an important realization.

13. The Healer 

Setting and Date: The Slums Outside Rio de Janeiro, 1999


In first person narrative, a man visits Pastor Eugenio who disdains Catholic clergy, and Pastor Eugenio makes a shocking confession about when he was a healer and prays over an injured man and how eventually these prayers end up having dangerous consequences.

14. Colors 

Setting and Date: Belem, 1984


A young boy in first person narrative  recalls his family's history, in particular that of his grandfather being born in Amazonian frontier and forcibly moving into a city. The grandfather often tells his grandson about his own love for the colors.

15. Switzerland

Setting and Date: Recife, 1993


Maria Amelia, a trader who surpasses her own husband, Jorge, always desires to visit Switzerland. One day she and her husband win a free trip to Switzerland, but Maria Amelia becomes uncertain of whether or not to take the chance and see the land of dreams for herself.

16. Carla 

Setting and Date: Rio de Janeiro, 1968/Paris 1973


Carla Alves, a twenty three year old young woman arrives from Rio de Janeiro to Paris and reflects on what brought her to Paris as a graduate student and a survivor of what has happened. While in Paris, she meets up with Jaime who helps her put her past in perspective, as well as deal with it.

Personal Opinion:

I've read plenty of short story collections, and I have to admit that this is seriously the best collection I've read. I loved learning even more about Brazil, more beyond the party scene so to speak and beyond episode of the Simpsons. The stories are good and well-written and they all reveal fascinating aspects of people in Brazil. Why four stars then? I have to admit that in some stories I had trouble understanding the moral or what I should have learned from reading it.

This is for Book Junkie Book Tours

A Hero for the People Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, August 11
Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Wednesday, August 13
Review at Onyx Book Ch√Ęteau
Friday, August 15
Spotlight at Closed the Cover
Monday, August 18
Review at Book Nerd
Tuesday, August 19
Guest Post at What Is That Book About
Wednesday, August 20
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Monday, August 25
Guest Post at The Bookworm
Wednesday, August 27
Spotlight at Unshelfish
Monday, September 1
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter
Thursday, September 4
Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Friday, September 5
Review at A Bookish Affair
Monday, September 8
Review at Mel’s Shelves
Review at Savvy Verse & Wit
Wednesday, September 10
Review & Interview at 80 Acres and a Book
Friday, September 12
Review at A Rose in the City

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for hosting. This is a really fantastic collection.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...