cover image Nowhere People

Nowhere People

Paulo Scott, trans. from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn. And Other Stories (, $15.95 trade paper (308p) ISBN 978-1-908276-38-4

This rheumy novel in translation delivers a stark portrait of Scott's native Brazil post-military rule, populated by burdened characters resorting to desperate measures under oppressive circumstances. The impassioned narrative is divided into four connected but self-contained sections, each roughly focusing on a different character's development. In the first, 21-year-old Workers' Party activist and law student Paulo picks up a 14-year-old Guarani Indian girl living in an encampment on the side of the highway. In his misguided efforts to improve her lot, he falls too hard too fast, mistaking charity for love. By the third segment, rebuffed by Ma%C3%ADna, he's abandoned his studies and moved to London to take up squatting and pilfering from the rich and she's hung herself from a tree, leaving their mixed-race son Donato (whom Paulo doesn't know about) in the care of two visiting middle-class intellectuals studying the effects of modern life on Rio Grande do Sul's native population. The thread containing Donato's transformation from out-of-place adolescent to ardent champion of indigenous rights hoping to reclaim his heritage carries the most weight and brings the multi-layered story full circle. Skillfully highlighting the nuanced history of political, racial, and social inequality in Brazilian society, Scott represents an important voice in contemporary Latin American literature. (Sept.)