cover image Role Play

Role Play

Clara Drummond, trans. from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn. FSG Originals, $16 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-0-374-61130-9

In Brazilian author Drummond’s sharp English-language debut, curator and self-proclaimed “misandrist and misogynist” Vivian Noronha navigates her privileged life of designer goods, endless parties, drugs, and sex in Rio de Janeiro. She recounts her family’s multigenerational history of serving as diplomats and her difficult teen years, when she was diagnosed with depression and heavily medicated. Now she’s in her early 30s, and though her family is less well-off than it once was, she coasts on her upper-class status. While attending a rave with mostly white, gay, and wealthy revelers, she witnesses the police attack a street vendor named Darlene. First they smash Darlene’s illegal caipirinhas stand, then they beat her, but the ravers continue filing into the club, unbothered by the brutality. As the party continues, Vivian considers the abuses and hypocrisies of Brazil’s classist and racist society. The book’s power comes from Vivian’s scathing assessment of the elite: rich people are painted as oblivious to the concerns of others, the artistic class as disingenuous in their calls for social equality, and even the protagonist herself as more interested in being glamorous and sexually desirable than anything else. Drummond’s incendiary tale burns bright. (June)