Saturday, May 30, 2015

Blood-Drenched Beard by Daniel Galera

This novel opens with a scene between a young Brazilian man and his father, days before his father's death.  After his father dies, the man is adrift and at loose ends.  He has quarreled with his only brother.  His father told him a strange story about his grandfather.  He said the grandfather was an irritable man who people were afraid of.  He had gone to the seaside town of Garopaba to live but was feared and despised by the townspeople.  HIs father said his grandfather was killed one night at a dance, but no body was ever found.

The man decides to move to Garopaba himself to try to find out what really happened to his grandfather.  He is the exact image of his grandfather except for a beard, so he lets his grow out.  He is an athlete who has trained and participated in marathons.  He likes training people in running and swimming so living by the sea is perfect for him.  He takes his father's dog, Beta, and settles in, finding work as a swimming instructor.  The man has a neurological disease that prevents him from recognizing faces.  This issue makes his task even more difficult.

As the months pass, he makes friends in the town and falls in love.  He tries to determine what has happened to his grandfather, but no one is willing to talk about it or even acknowledge that the man ever lived there.  Will he be successful in his quest to determine the truth about his grandfather's life?

Daniel Galera is considered one of the best young Brazilian writers and was chosen by Granta as such in 2013.  The book was awarded the 2013 San Paulo Literature Prize.  The tone is unusual; it is languid but then incredible events occur.  It explores the themes of memory, of family ties and of forgiveness.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

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