The Shape of Bones

Daniel Galera, trans. from the Portuguese by Alison Entrekin. Penguin Press, $25 (192p) ISBN 978-1-59420-548-4
A strikingly potent coming-of-age story set mostly on the streets of Esplanada, a rapidly changing area in northeast Brazil in the early 1990s, Galera’s novel moves seamlessly between past and present to deliver a moving portrait of a man haunted by the ghosts of his youth and a senseless tragedy that would change the course of his life. The unnamed narrator in the present day, known only as Hermano in flashbacks to his childhood, is visiting the old neighborhood en route to pick up a friend for an ambitious and dangerous rock-climbing expedition that “promised to be the biggest adventure of his life.” But upon entering Esplanada in the early morning, he is struck by the return of a crippling shame that he thought he had left behind long ago. The past catches up to the present as he intervenes in a gang conflict eerily reminiscent of one that he had fled from as an adolescent. Examining masculinity and the responsibility we have to others in violent yet hauntingly intimate scenes, Galera (Blood-Drenched Beard) illuminates the murky spaces between who we believe ourselves to be and who we really are. The result is a harrowing, expertly structured work of fiction. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/19/2017
Release date: 08/15/2017
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-14-313149-6
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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