Child of the Dark : The Diary of Carolina Maria de Jesus ; translated from the portuguese by David St. Clair
New York : E.P. Dutton & Co., 1962. First Edition. Hardcover. 190 pages ; 22 cm. $4.50 dust jacket with minimal wear. Pages are clean and unmarked. Binding is firm.
CHILD OF THE DARK : The Diary of Carolina Maria de Jesus
Translated from the Portuguese by David St. Clair
ILLUSTRATED WITH SIXTEEN REMARKABLE PHOTOGRAPHS
Interested, the reporter asked the tall black woman about her book. At first she didn't want to talk to him, but slowly he won her confidence, and she took him to her shack. There, in the bottom of a dilapidated dresser she
pulled out her cherished notebooks...
The reporter is Audalio Dantas of Sao Paulo, Brazil; the author is a Negro woman with only two years of. schooling, mother of three illegitimate children, each born of a different father; the story explodes as a vivid and terrifying social document.
When first published in Brazil, Child of the Dark shocked the entire country, became a literary sensation, and has sold more than any other book in Brazilian history. With a simple, stark, Goya-esque style, Carolina Maria de Jesus lays bare in day-by-day diary form the brutal, sordid life of a Sao Paulo favela (slum) — a breeding ground of social dynamite waiting to be set off by a local Castro. She tells of the endless fights, the knifings, the vicious gossiping at the single water spigot, of her daily search for scrap paper and metal which she sells and thereby makes just enough to keep her children alive. She tells of her fiIthy house and the equally squalid houses of her neighbors, of the half-measures taken to help the slumdwellers by politicians and churchmen and of the contempt of the favelados for both. She tells of the free and easy sex life of the slums and of the constant, gnawing presence of hunger that invades every shack.
The picture that emerges is that of the fierceness of life in the favelas — the competition for the barest necessities, the maliciousness, the only occasional kindness and humanity. Yet as often as she complains about conditions, Carolina is never self-pitying. Pervading her diary is a vivid love of life, a sheer animal vitality that is necessary for survival in the environment in which she lives.
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