“There will be a last encounter with a treasured friend. A last swallow of your favourite food. A last kiss from the love of your life. Most of the time you won’t know when it’s the last time. But tonight I do – so I can make sure it’s done right. It will be a singular sensation, tasting my mother’s love for the final time just when I am questioning it the most. On one hand, I have found out that she lied to me for all of my life. On the other, I know that she was only part of a grander plan, of which she was never the principal architect.”
Heliopolis is about life in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the contrast of the extreme poverty in the favelas and the extreme wealth of drug lords and business entrepreneurs that are also in cahoots with the drug lords. Though it’s obvious that Scudamore did not ever live in a Brazilian slum, he manages to completely immerse his first person narrator, Ludo, a man of both worlds, in that role. His descriptions of life in modern Brazil and the socioeconomic poles that are highly visible in that country were vivid and imaginative, painting what I would think is an exact picture of what it’s really like.
Plot was not the focus of this novel; rather, it was a character study of Ludo, known to be born in the slums and essentially adopted by the wealthiest family in Sao Paulo. He is by no means a likeable character, and there were times I had to put the book down because I was disgusted by him. But the unraveling of his character throughout the novel was very well told, and though it is not a story of redemption or even of rags to riches, it was definitely a fascinating look into the head of a highly despicable guy.
This was the last of the Iceland Writers Retreat authors’ books I had in my stack, so I can now feel at last slightly prepared for that in April. I will definitely be in for a treat in terms of the talented authors that will be hosting workshops and hopefully teaching me a thing or two!
Books read so far: 8.