Friday, January 05, 2007

Book Review: City of God by Paulo Lins

Raw, brutal, and graphically violent, "City of God," by Paulo Lins, is a multifaceted story about hellish life and early death in a Brazilian slum, where family ties can be severed as easily as a kite string.

Based in part on Lins's childhood in the Rio de Janeiro favela known as Cidade de Deus, or City of God, the book was originally published in Brazil in 1997 and made into a film in 2002. While the movie focused on the relationship between two of the characters, the novel is a fast-moving and intense series of snapshots about a complex network of young thugs during the 1960s, '70s, and '80s. Most of them are known only by their nicknames -- Hellraiser, Green Eyes, Sparrow -- and all of them struggle with issues of class, race, and power.
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