cover image The Dark Side of Skin

The Dark Side of Skin

Jeferson Tenório, trans. from the Portuguese by Bruna Dantas Lobato. Charco, $16.95 trade paper (150p) ISBN 978-1-913867-73-7

Brazilian author Tenório tackles in his intimate and artful English-language debut the dysfunction and racism experienced by a family in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Pedro, the 22-year-old narrator, finds a sacred Yoruba stone among the belongings of his recently deceased father, Henrique. Throughout the narrative that follows, Pedro addresses his father directly as he reconstructs Henrique’s life (“I didn’t want your absence to be your only legacy. I wanted your presence, some form of it, even if it was painful and sad”). Touched on are Henrique’s career as a teacher, his childhood, his teenage loves, his marriage and its dissolution, his experience of fatherhood, and his run-ins with racist police who routinely stopped him because of his dark skin color. Pedro blends touching accounts of his parents’ failed marriage (“Living together quickly brought to light all the ghosts that haunted the pair of you”) with a poignant and bracing depiction of Henrique’s lifelong harassment by law enforcement (at 50, after he’s stopped and searched just like he was as a teen, he’s left “feeling the gaze of suspicion.... Because a suspect is always a suspect, even if the police let you go”). This slim volume packs a stinging punch. (Feb.)