CAROLINA OF THE FAVELA by Carollina Maria de Jesus

CAROLINA OF THE FAVELA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The fauelas are Brazil's unbelievably tawdry, muck-ridden slum areas. It is to these shanty riddled dead ends that those who cannot find work in the cities come. Carolina Maria de Jesus came to the favela in 1947. She had three children -- all illegitimate. The young Negress had been on her own since she was sixteen. She'd sung in a circus, sold beer, cleaned houses. For three years during the 50's she kept a notebook, about the Favela which revolted her, the favelados, herself and her three children. Her diary was discovered by a newspaperman named Dantas and it became the literary sensation of Brazil, selling more copies than any other book in Brazilian history. And the remarkable success is understandable. ""The favela"", Carolina says throughout, ""is the back yard where they throw the garbage."" She hates her existence with an intractable bitterness: ""I'm starting to lose my interest in life. It's beginning to revolt me and my revulsion is just."" There is despair in Carolina's life but there is the responsibility for here children and the solace of her writing: ""I have a hard cold look for both men and women. My smile and my soft smooth words I save for children."" Although she calls the favelados ""filthy, pornographic, obscene"", her unbridled contempt is only for the demagogues who hand out their pittances on election eve and return to Sao Paulo. These are the day-to-day entries of a proud woman who wants to hang on her back a sign to tell the world ""If I am dirty it's because I don't have soap"" and the words ring with simplicity, poetry, and nobility.

Publisher: Dutton