cover image Tropicália


Harold Rogers. Atria, $27 (256p) ISBN 978-1-66801-387-8

Rogers debuts with the riotous and tragicomic story of a Rio de Janeiro family in turmoil over lies, infidelity, and parental abandonment. The narrative unfolds over the week leading up to a bacchanalian New Year’s Eve celebration on the city’s Copacabana Beach, and is told in turn by Daniel Cunha; his younger sister, Lucia (both are in their early 20s); their mother, Maria, who left for the U.S. six years earlier; and their grandparents. Much of the drama is tied to Maria’s past relationship with her sister, Nara, who is now in prison after her drug dealer husband Antonio was killed in a police raid. Did Maria, jealous of Nara’s beauty, turn her and Antonio in before deserting her children for not just one, but two American men? Who exactly was Nara’s father? And for that matter, who is Lucia’s? These questions are raised by Maria’s return to Rio, where Daniel, whose girlfriend has left him, is adrift and prone to violence. Meanwhile, Lucia, who is restless and bookish but lacking opportunities, feels responsible for Nara’s daughter. The voices of the siblings, Lucia’s in particular, resound with rage, fear, and uncertainty: “Existence was a putrid, overflowing dump... but I wanted all of it,” she declares. Rogers’s plot sizzles as much as the Copacabana Beach where the party’s fateful events play out. This packs a powerful punch. Agent: Chris Clemans, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (July)