It's another hot, sleepless night in Rio, punctuated by the sounds of jazz, TV, and gunshots from the cafés and shanties. In the narrator's drink-bruised mind, a nightmare begins with a parade of child coffins and a cascade of memories.
One figure stands out: Calunga, local hero, iconoclast, joker and fixer, who battles his way out of the stagnant "Backlands" of his boyhood to become a big-city journalist. Defeated by the city, his own weakness, and decades of corrupt politics and military dictatorship, only his irony remains.
Here lies all the fascinating and convulsive history of Brazil during the past thirty years and more.
ANTÔNIO TORRES was born in 1940 in Junco (today called Sátiro Dias), a small farming village in Brazil's notoriously poor Sertão (Backlands) in the north-eastern state of Bahia. Like his characters from Bahia in The Land and Blues for a Lost Childhood, he attended school in Alagoinhas, then in Salvador. From school Antônio Torres joined the Jornal da Bahia in Salvador as a cub reporter following crime stories; then he moved to São Paulo, where he worked as a sport and local reporter for Ultima Hora. From 1965, shortly after the coup d'état that brought the military to power in Brazil (1964-1985), he moved to Portugal for 3 years to 1968, when he returned to Brazil and left journalism for advertising and fiction writing, living and working in Rio. He is now one of the best known Brazilian authors, since 2013 chair of the Brazilian Academy of Letters.