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Ways to Disappear is a delightful little crime-intrigue set in the sun of Brazil. Despite the colourful colour in Brazilian green, blue and yellow, the story is black. Very black. Emma is an American translator who has worked on a number of novels by Beatriz Yagoda, a Brazilian writer of poetic literary fiction. Emma has made translating Beatriz a personal mission, so when Beatriz disappears after climbing an almond tree in Rio de Janeiro, Emma thinks nothing of abandoning her fiancé Miles to the Pittsburgh winter and leading the hunt. Moving at breakneck speed, Emma finds herself caught up in an terrifying criminal underworld, with only Beatriz’s high maintenance adult offspring to guide her through it. Following leads, hunches and memorable paragraphs in Beatriz’s novels, the trio head off on a tour of Brazil’s islands and secondary cities in the hope of picking up the trail. As they do so, they are pursued by loan sharks and unseen journalists keen to make scandal and revel in the Yagodas’ misfortune. The novel is short – made even shorter by fragmentary paragraphs and heaps of white space – but it feels complete and satisfying. The narrative is interspersed with e-mails and pseudo-definitions to create a more documentary feel. The language is spot on; every sentence conveying huge volumes of meaning. The reader is effortlessly transported in place and emotion; gets to know several characters in some depth (I personally loved the Brazilian literary editor); and is hypnotised by a writhing, twisty plot that could go anywhere. In this sense, it read like a novel in translation – not through any awkwardness of language but just because it felt culturally and stylistically different to typical western novels. If there was one area that didn’t work quite as well for me, it was when the narrative tried to incorporate Beatriz’s own writing. I can see that it was designed to set up a contrast between the highbrow, sensitive life of a writer and the sordid world in which she had found herself. However, the highbrow stuff just didn’t convince; it read like stand-alone pieces designed to slot into the novel rather than pieces that could plausibly be part of a bigger whole. This, though, is a minor criticism and it has little impact on the reader’s overall sense of the novel. Overall, this is an excellent novel and I recommend it without reservation. *****
You may have noticed that the greatest sporting competition in the World is on your tv,internet,radio,newspapers etc Passions will run high. National honour is at stake. But the sport promotes fairness, sporting excellence and equality. Trouble and controversy in Brazil but I'm sure we will have a great tournament Ingerlaaaannnnnddddddd Will be our year.