Tent of Miracles (book review)Jorge Amado,

Barbara Shelby (Translator)


210428: this is my new favourite amado. what has bothered me on several other works of his, particularly more recent, is the rampant sexism. still here, still strong, but woven so tightly into comic/satirical recount of bahia's native autodidact genius, that it seems incidental local culture. to me anyway. archango is a man denigrated and ignored in his lifetime and afterward by certain educated and upper class until, decades after his death, famed american nobel winner says this is why he came to the city. archango is truly man of the people...


archango is an interesting portrait of what amado characterises as heroic: proud black man (mulatto), lives large, beds women (many), takes his duties as 'eyes' of syncretic african god seriously, if nothing else, streetwise intelligence, brave etc. only difference is he also seems to be intellectual, writes several books, researches on 'african influences in bahia' among others (lineage, cookbook). when the nobel winner mentions him the pr industry gets involved and there is centenary of his birth, though there is satire about exactly how he is changed from his actual life...


the way this book is written is probably one reason why i like it so much. there are historical passages of his life interwoven with more current (1969). there are the comic misadventures of poet who starts to research on archango, contrasted with how he lived much more successfully, there is how he is promoted from mere 'runner' at the medical school to pillar of society, contrasted with passages of his actual historical life, his poverty, his generosity, his fierce opposition to doctrines of racism in favour of, more or less, everyone 'mixing'. this is personal affection i have always felt for amado: my background is mixed (hawai'ian/white canadian) and i always thought of brazil as one big kaua'i (mom's home island). by now i know this is not the case, but remember whenever there my cousins and friends there who were all 'mixed' and how this seemed the way the world should be...

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