A selection of journalistic pieces from 1999 to 2007 by accomplished Brazilian journalist, Eliane Brum. Brum captures the myriad voices of her subjects, in missives ranging across current issues such as the human cost of exploiting natural resources, the Belo Monté Dam’s eradication of a way of life for those on the banks of the Xingu River, and the contrast between urban centers and remote villages.
... a sweeping collection committed to making the voice of the Other heard ... Perhaps most striking in Brum’s work is her prose ... Brum asks readers to identify with the humanity she reveals in each of her subjects ... Brum’s collection shows the dance that occurs between a journalist and her subjects in the course of their shared conversations. Her writing is an exercise in compassion in its truest form—she’s willing to 'suffer with' and to reveal the suffering of both her subjects and herself. Readers are not spared the painful details ... In confirming the humanity of those whom we might easily overlook, Brum’s writing is a call to greater awareness of the lives around us ... is both reportage and a challenge to those of us living lives of comfort and privilege. She asks us to step out of our worlds, to join her in her quest of becoming an 'intimate foreigner' in the lives of others. In the worlds we enter in these stories, our task is to be the reporter Brum strives to be: one who mostly listens.
... readers glimpse the everyday of 'ordinary' Brazilians ... For Brum, who carefully explains in her introduction that 'a news story means stripping off the clothes of ourselves to don the Other,' every report is a chance to demonstrate compassion and love for the people who manage to invent a meaningful life from near impossible beginnings ... Beautifully translated from Portuguese by Whitty, these accounts make up an unforgettable compilation documenting the lives of those largely underrepresented in literature. While the stories are specifically Brazilian, the insights they reveal are universal.
... a compassionate trek through Brazil’s peripheries, where the poor and the marginalized reside. As [Brum] mines urban favelas and Amazonian villages for stories, Brazil’s violent past and uncertain present come looming out of the shadows ... It’s clear that Brum reveres the act of listening ... Along with the stories, Brum has a knack of eliciting the perfect quote, the line that captures a life ... While the collection is shot through with tragedy, at times it’s also comic. This is partly due to the characters Brum meets. Many of them are hustlers, illiterate stoics imbued with wisdom, wisecracking heroes of their own back yards. It’s also the prose, which has an antic, almost surrealist, energy. The essays are full of bric-a-brac, arcane rituals, and droll nicknames ... The book has one small blemish. In contrast to Diane Grosklaus Whitty’s terrifically fluid and idiomatic translation of the essays, the Introduction at times comes across as awkward and stilted ... These oddities are in no way representative of the rest of the book. Overall, this is a superb chronicle of marginalization, a collage depicting a continent-sized country still finding its way nearly 200 years after independence.