A Brazilian Lord of the Flies, about a group of boys who live by their wits and daring in the slums of Bahia
A Penguin Classics
They call themselves “Captains of the Sands,” a gang of orphans and runaways who live by their wits and daring in the torrid slums and sleazy back alleys of Bahia. Led by fifteen-year-old “Bullet,” the band—including a crafty liar named “Legless,” the intellectual “Professor,” and the sexually precocious “Cat”—pulls off heists and escapades against the right and privileged of Brazil. But when a public outcry demands the capture of the “little criminals,” the fate of these children becomes a poignant, intensely moving drama of love and freedom in a shackled land.
Captains of the Sands captures the rich culture, vivid emotions, and wild landscape of Bahia with penetrating authenticity and brilliantly displays the genius of Brazil’s most acclaimed author.
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This first English-language edition of a 50-year-old novel by the popular Brazilian author of Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands et al. is the last of a series of six he wrote about his native Bahia, which is a Brazilian state. The "captains'' of the title are a gang of abandoned children who live in a waterfront warehouse and survive by robbing the rich. The novel is clearly an early effort for Amado, with self-conscious effects (such as an imagined dialogue between a gang member and an icon he wants to steal) and a tendency to romanticize the young thieves and to telegraph their destinies. But Amado's vivid descriptions of Bahia, his strong social conscience (``The problem of abandoned and delinquent children that worried almost no one in the whole city was Father Jose Pedro's greatest worry'') and his moving characterizations carry the reader along to the inevitable denouementwhich, despite its predictability, is both stirring and poignant. This edition also includes a self-righteous ``postface'' penned in 1937, in which Amado claims that ``no one until today has dared look face to face with so much love at Bahian humanity and its problems.''