SYNOPSIS: Deep in gambling debt, the celebrated Brazilian writer Beatriz Yagoda is last seen holding a suitcase and a cigar and climbing into an almond tree. She abruptly vanishes.In snowy Pittsburgh, her American translator Emma hears the news and, against the wishes of her boyfriend and Beatriz's two grown children, flies immediately to Brazil. There, in the sticky, sugary heat of Rio, Emma and her author's children conspire to solve the mystery of Yagoda's curious disappearance and staunch the colorful demands of her various outstanding affairs: the rapacious loan shark with a zeal for severing body parts, and the washed-up and disillusioned editor who launched Yagoda's career years earlier.
GENRE: Fiction, Contemporary
RATING: ★★★★☆ , 4 humid and sweltering stars.
FAVORITE QUOTE: "By noon, Beatriz had written in her first novel, the heat in Brazil was an animal's mouth. It would swallow anything to feed itself."
REVIEW: Idra Novey's debut novel is a perfectly cocooned story. An arresting mix of poetic phrases, heated settings, and mysterious interludes, laid out like perfectly aligned puzzle pieces, just waiting to be snapped into place. In turns beautiful and despairing.
While there are many themes and discoveries in this short novel, I felt the greatest to be self-discovery. While trying to find their writer, the characters of the novel instead found themselves. For better or worse.
Half the novel feels like quotable material, something I love, statements that feel profound in and out of their setting. And speaking of setting, Brazil was brilliantly captured, sweltering and vivid.
My only criticism is a personal one. I like conversations and character's words to be in quotations, whereas the author folded them into her paragraphs. But that's just a personal preference.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this book, perhaps to be read on a day where the heat can surround you and fully transport you through the novel.