By coincidence I just finished both current titles this week. They are both worth mentioning.
The nonfiction work was “The Accidental President of Brazil: A Memoir,” by Fernando Henrique Cardoso. The preface is written by his good friend President Bill Clinton.
This biography, published in 2006, was a candid and very enjoyable telling of not just President Cardoso’s political career but (more interesting to me) the historical transformations within Brazil over the past 30 years.
Quoting a flyleaf blurb: “In this most engaging and very personal history of twentieth-century Brazil, a genuine philosopher-king recounts how he combined principle and pragmatism to transform a harsh military dictatorship into a hopeful modern democracy. Readers with only a passing curiosity about Brazil will enjoy this rare ‘lessons learned’ memoir by one of the foremost statesmen of our times.”
I really liked it and would recommend it to others seeking to understand Brazil's history, political culture and social transformation.
The fiction title was “Snow Falling on Cedars,” by David Guterson. This 1994 novel, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the American Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award, is written in a soft, ambient style while also laying out a detailed murder mystery in the context of a rural community steeped in cultural divides and prejudice.
The story takes place on the isolated island of San Piedro in north Puget Sound in the 1950s. A local white fisherman is found dead on his boat. A resident Japanese-American man is accused of the crime.
Storylines of childhood friendships, a close yet strained bi-racial community and harbored prejudice are illuminated by the impact of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent internment of San Piedro’s residents of Japanese decent.
Some wounds don’t heal well. The novel explores if it is possible for the people of a place like San Piedro to overcome their history together, and if so, how.
It was a very dreamy, yet engaging read.
If you would like to borrow either book, let me know.