First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.
Amado’s largest, most magnificent novel to date is set in earthy, tropical Brazil. It is an unforgettable tale of the frontier full of violence and courage, lust and adventure. (Source: Goodreads)
Weee! Another work week is done and over with. After a hard week at the office, I can’t help but dash towards the weekends. Let us give ourselves a pat on the back for a job well done, even if what we have accomplished is to survive through the week. In this challenging and uncertain times where mental strength is a luxury, getting through the week is enough of an accomplishment already. Fret no further as the weekend is just over the horizon. Let us take the time to heal, recover, and prepare for another week. I am hoping and praying for everyone’s safety and wellbeing in these challenging and uncertain times. I am also one with the entire world in praying that this pandemic will end soon.
The weekend also presents an opportunity to catch up on our reading backlogs. But before we dig into the weekend, let me preview what I am currently reading in line with my weekly First Impression updates. In late May, I decided to extend my immersion into the works of Latin American and Caribbean literature. As such, my current literary journey has transported me to Brazil. Ironically, Jorge Amados’ Showdown is my first novel set in Brazil in the past two months. This is despite the fact that I have already read about 10 works of Latin American literature. Showdown was one of my many random purchases last year; I bought most of these books despite not having much of an iota on what they are about.
Showdown is also my first novel by Jorge Amado, who, I learned later on, had a long and prolific writing career. Showdown is set on a fertile agricultural zone in the state of Bahia and chronicles the infancy of the modern city of Irisopolis. Chronicling the growth of a community, in a way, this novel is a step away from the typical Latin American fiction that revolves around vivid imagery, dreams, and magical realism. The readers meet an interesting cast of characters from different walks of life and representing different members of the community.
The eclectic cast, who also represented the pioneers of the modern Irisopolis, included a Lebanese (although often referred to as Turkish) merchant, a string of prostitutes, a colonel, bandits, and plantation owners. Through these interesting cast and their different personalities, the readers see a community that is beyond the bounds of law. Each conducts his or her own business the way he or she sees fit. The novel permeated with images of sex and violence as shamelessness, or perhaps, lawlessness is a norm.
The novel was originally published in 1984 in Portuguese as Tocaia Grande, which was also the name of the community where the novel is set. Tocaia Grande, in English, translates to “big ambush”. However, despite having read nearly two thirds of the novel, I have yet to encounter any mentions of this “big ambush” and how it relates to the growth of Irisopolis. Apart from the novel’s diverse cast, this tenterhook is one of the novel’s facets that is keeping me riveted. The English translation’s title is also making me think: what showdown is it referring to? And who is pitted against each other in this showdown? I guess the answers lay in the latter parts of the novel.
With a hundred pages more to go, I am looking at finishing the novel over the weekend. With this, I am hoping to find the answers to my questions. How about you fellow reader, what book are you going to read this weekend? I hope it is a book that you’ve been looking forward to and I hope you enjoy it. Keep safe, and happy weekend