Longlisted for the National Book Award for Translated Literature
Urgent investigative essays covering a wide range of humanity in Brazil, from the Amazon to the favelas
Eliane Brum is a star journalist in Brazil, known for her polyphonic writing that gives voice to people often underrepresented in popular literature. Brum’s reporting takes her into Brazil’s most marginalized communities: she visits the Amazon to understand the practice of indigenous midwives, stays in São Paulo’s favelas to witness the joy of a marriage and the tragedy of young men dying due to drugs and guns, and wades through the mud to capture the boom and bust of modern-day gold rushes. Brum is an enormously sensitive and perceptive interlocutor, and as she visits these places she provides intimate glimpses into both everyday and extraordinary lives: a poor father on the way to bury his son, a street performer who eats glass, a woman living out her final 115 days, and a hoarder rescuing the “leftover souls” of the city.
The Collector of Leftover Souls showcases the best of Brum’s work from two books, combining short profiles with longer reported pieces. These vibrant missives range across current issues such as the human cost of exploiting natural resources, the Belo Monté Dam’s eradication of a way of life for those on the banks of the Xingu River, and the contrast between urban centers and remote villages. Told in the vibrant and idiomatic language of the people Brum writes about, The Collector of Leftover Souls is a vital work of investigative journalism from an internationally acclaimed author.
In this vibrant collection of profiles, journalist Brum (One Two) explores the lives of people from communities across Brazil with empathy, transporting the reader to the forest of Amazonia, the favelas of S o Paulo, illegal mining camps, and beyond. Living in the pages are midwives who travel by canoe, mothers of sons lost to poverty and the drug trade, men digging for gold with their bare hands all people living unnoticed on the periphery of Brazilian society. Brum's measured handling unites her subjects through a compassionate, even celebratory, tone. Typical is her treatment of the title story's subject, an elderly trash collector of "broken fans, cracked vases, abandoned toys" and hoarder in the city of Porto Alegre, whom she describes as believing in a "world where neither things nor people are disposable" and serving as a "lone combatant against an army of 1.3 million people who toss out the remnants of their lives every day." Throughout, Brum shows how her subjects, people excluded from wealth and privilege, resist in a myriad of ways the society determined to marginalize them. Thanks to her sensitive and adventurous reporting, this book is one full of people and stories not soon forgotten. Anja Saile, Anja Saile Literary Agency