cover image The Parrot’s Perch: A Memoir

The Parrot’s Perch: A Memoir

Karen Keilt. She Writes, $16.95 trade paper (280p) ISBN 978-1-63152-571-1

Keilt’s gripping memoir begins in December 2013, as she travels to the UN headquarters in New York to testify about the abuse she and her ex-husband endured at the hands of the police in Brazil nearly 34 years earlier during the country’s military dictatorship. Keilt was born in São Paulo to an affluent American mother and Brazilian father. Her idyllic childhood was occasionally interrupted by brutal run-ins with Brazilian authorities (customs officers once forced her family to empty their bank account). In 1975, Keilt, then in her early 20s, married Rick Sage, a childhood friend of another American family living in Brazil. Two months into their marriage, the newlyweds were awoken in the middle of the night by police who bound and dragged them into a car. What follows is a stomach-churning account of the 45 days they spent being tortured (Keilt was raped) in captivity, until their release once their families had paid a ransom just as, she would later learn, other affluent families had done. Karen finally told her story to the Brazilian National Truth Commission at the UN in the hopes that her story would lead to the arrest of those officials who participated in torture and “might help put an end to corruption.” Keilt narrates an intense yet even-handed story of living under a dictatorship. (Apr.)