THE BEAUTIFUL EMPIRE by Zulfikar Ghose

THE BEAUTIFUL EMPIRE

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

The second and third books in Ghose's fabulistic Brazilian trilogy--which began with The Incredible Brazilian (1972)--have already been published in England but are only now arriving in America; the final installment, A Different World, is scheduled for this winter. In this middle novel of the trilogy, then, the reincarnation-prone hero Gregorio Peixoto da Silva reappears in the 1860s--continuing his unashamedly excessive picaresques during Brazil's war against Paraguay. Fresh out of school and wet behind the ears, soldier da Silva manages to escape physical harm while being captured and then released. Afterwards, he serendipitously finds himself aligned with entrepreneurs traveling up the Amazon to establish a trade in Hevea brasiliensis, the indigenous rubber tree. Soon, though strictly a junior partner in the rubber business, da Silva branches out in a side venture--as a principal in a number of floating brothels. And the plot tumbles that follow largely revolve around da Silva's wily manipulations of his fellow local businessmen--with the hero getting into one fix after another, ending up under arrest, falsely charged with engineering the fall of the Brazilian rubber industry (which he has in fact helped to foster). A bit too fizzy and foolish to be taken seriously as a parable of Brazil's history--but, like The Incredible Brazilian, lurchingly energetic and (despite some cruel brothel scenes) pleasantly artificial.

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 1984
Publisher: Overlook--dist. by Viking