09 October 2008

The Emperor of the Amazon review by Denis Minev

The Emperor of the Amazon
by Marcio Souza
Edition: Paperback
Availability: Out of Print--Limited Availability

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars SATIRE BASED ON REAL STORY, SARCASTIC AND UNIQUEOctober 13, 2004
This was the first novel by Marcio Souza, a gifted Amazonian writer. The novel is based on the true story of Galvez, who briefly gained Acre (a remote state in the western Brazilian Amazon) from Bolivia in the late 1800s. At the time, the Amazon was bustling with the rubber trade, so the economic importance of the state, one of the main rubber producers in the country, was quite obvious. 

Galvez is a migrant from Spain who meanders through the Amazon beginning in Belem, from where he is chased, ending up in Santarem then in Manaus. A bohemian, he is dragged into the plot to save Acre from a Bolivian-American coalition that would annex Acre to Bolivia, despite the majority of Brazilian rubber tappers living there. 

Souza uses crude and sarcastic language in order to depict the decadent and complex society living in the Amazon, with prosptitutes from Europe, Northeastern Brazilians tapping rubber, American and European magnates, scientists with strange theories about the region and overall adventurers seeking a new life (as was the case with Galvez). 

Souza pokes fun at that society as well as the military conception of the Amazon at the time the wrote the book (1970s), which drew some political trouble for him at the time. He has since written much, of which I have only read Mad Maria so far. His style is definitely reminiscent of Emile Zola in the crudeness of the language. If you are getting acquainted with Souza, I would recommend Mad Maria first, since it is more of a standard novel. In Emperor of the Amazon, he uses a different style of breaking up the chapters into little pieces, which can get distracting at times. Overall, however, it is a very interesting book, continuing the tradition of able Latin American writers using sarcasm and an artistic touch in a almost surreal environment.

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