Captains of the Sands

by Jorge Amado Year Published: 1937

This is a Brazilian "classic" recommended to me by my Brazilian husband.  While I was reading books like To Kill A Mockingbird for school as a teenager, he was reading this book for his school.    

The story of the Captians of the Sands takes place on the streets of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.  The Captains of the Sands are a gang of "abandoned" or orphaned boys trying to survive the streets through deciet and thievery.  Although they do not have parents, there are still a few adults who care for them, help them out, and many of the boys look up to them.  This book reveals many cultural aspects of Brazil--like the fact that each character goes by a nickname and not their real name.  But what this book has in common with other non-Brazilian books is that it shows the plight of the poor.  And although these boys may live in a tropical climate, their situation is much like the children in The Jungle by Upton Sinclair and Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens.   

What struck me the most about this is the cultural differences in not only how people live in our two countries, but how much different the literature is.  I have also noticed this stark contrast with other Brazilian literature I have read.  "Classic" American literature is more reserved in what it discusses, where "classic" Brazilian literature is more unabashed in its telling.

I recommend this to those who enjoy learning about cultures through literature.