Phenotypes

Paulo Scott, trans. from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn. And Other Stories, $16.95 trade paper (232p) ISBN 978-1-913505-18-9
Scott follows up Nowhere People with a profound story of colorism and familial loyalty set in Brazil. Federico, a light-skinned middle-aged Black man from Porto Alegre, has built a career as an advocate for racial justice and equality as one of the founders of the Global Social Forum. While serving on a commission to develop software meant to equitably evaluate Black, brown, and Indigenous candidates for public education, he receives word from his darker-skinned brother that his niece, Roberta, has been arrested at a political protest. Alternating chapters bounce between Federico’s present and his youth, when he and his brother hid a gun for a friend after it was used to kill someone. Now, Federico worries their old mistakes might ruin his chance to ensure Roberta’s safety. Scott’s portrayal of how colorism functions in Federico’s own family, and society at large, is nuanced and careful (in a commission meeting, Federico criticizes their impossible task: “Wherever a judgment is made, whether legal or moral, it makes no difference, there will always be considerable scope for subjectivity, for personalities, for prejudices”). The multiple layers combine for a mesmerizing and mature story. Agent: Nicole Witt, Mertin Literary Agency. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 11/17/2021
Release date: 01/04/2022
Genre: Fiction
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