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Before Jorge Amado (born in 1912 in Bahia, the son of a cacao planter) died in 2001, the New York Times had called him ¨the most significant of contemporary Brazilian novelists¨. But Amado´s body of literary works is made up of two distinct phases. His earlier novels were propagandistic, the fruit of his association with Communism. One of them, Terras do Sem Fim (1942) -The Violent Land (1945), set in frontier Bahia, is about the violence of the struggle to produce and market cacao (the raw material for chocolate).
A second phase began with the critically-acclaimed ¨Magical Realism¨ work, Gabriela, Cravo y Canela (1958) - Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon (1962), a comic, sexy best seller; and continued with Dona Flor e Seus Dois Maridos (1966) - Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands (1969); and Tenda dos Milagres (1969) - Tent of Miracles (1971), "the story of Pedro Archanjo, mestizo, self-taught ethnologist, apostle of miscegenation, laborer, cult priest, and bon vivant . .
A juicy sample of Amado's style may be had by reading A morte e a morte de Quincas Berro Dágua (1961) - The Two Deaths of Quincas Wateryell: A Tall Tale (1965). Quincas (also a bon vivant) lives his life with gusto among his low-life friends, to the chagrin of his family who revere "Propriety" and strive for "Respectability". When Quincas dies while merry-making with his friends and his family has to retrieve the body and arrange the obsequies, for 'polite society', the 'fun' begins. (It's only 94 pages long, in the paperback.)