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Blood-Drenched Beard, by Daniel Galera, Hamish Hamilton, RRP£16.99, 416 pages
Blood-Drenched Beard opens with our unnamed narrator listening to his suicidal father retell the story of his own father’s murder. The narrator’s grandfather, it seems, was a wild man with a ferocious temper who was murdered by the inhabitants of Garopaba, a fishing town in southern Brazil.
Plagued by the unsolved mystery and recovering from his father’s suicide, the narrator moves to Garopaba in the hope of uncovering the truth. Everybody seems to know what happened but nobody wants to remember.
Daniel Galera was named as one of Granta’s Best Young Brazilian novelists in 2012 and his novel succeeds in creating an unsettling contrast between the beauty of this sleepy paradise and its sinister underbelly. Looking beyond the usual clichés about soccer, samba and beaches, he has produced an honest, disturbing portrait of a town that is, we discover, a predatory place at heart.
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