Saturday, April 20, 2013

Rio's Favelas & Lins' City of God

From Wednesday's UPI article "Brazil beefs up security before pope's visit, World Cup:"
Brazil is beefing up national security in preparation for the July visit of Pope Francis, the FIFA World Cup next year and the 2016 Olympics...
The slums, known as favelas, haven't entirely disappeared despite repeated police and paramilitary operations and remain problem areas for Brazil's law enforcement agencies, including army units used occasionally when police action fails.
The favelas are seen as hotbeds of crime, drug trade and human trafficking -- blots on the image the government of President Dilma Rousseff wants to present to the pope when he visits in July, the World Cup next year and the Olympics.
Before the pontiff's visit, Brazil will also host the FIFA Confederations Cup, an international association soccer tournament conducted June 15-30, which is a prelude to the 2014 World Cup. Brazil is the defending champion.
For a novel set in a favela, try City of God by Paulo Lins:
Lins's 1997 fiction debut—the source of the 2002 film published in English for the first time—chronicles two generations over three decades in the infamous Rio de Janeiro City of God, "a neo-slum of concrete, brimming dealer-doorways, sinister-silences and cries of despair."
From the slum's creation in the early 1960s for flood victims, through the rise of disco and cocaine in the 1970s, to the horrific gang wars of the 1980s, Lins traces the rise and fall of myriad, often teenaged gangsters for whom guns, girls and drugs are the tools of power.
While the film traces the divergent paths of two childhood friends, the novel rushes from vignette to vignette, with an ever-changing cast of characters with names like "Good Life," "Beelzebub" and "Hellraiser." Years, and pages, pass in a haze of smoking, drinking, snorting lines of cocaine, dancing sambas, swearing and planning the next big score. Guns dispense justice; the price for disrespect, whether to a spouse, a friend or the favela, is torture or death.
Lins, who grew up in the City, lets the horror speak for itself. He serves up a Scarface-like urban epic, bursting with encyclopedic, graphic descriptions of violence, punctuated with lyricism and longing.

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