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A Hero for the People: Stories of the Brazilian Backlands Paperback – May 3, 2013


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 190 pages
  • Publisher: Press 53 (May 3, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 193570883X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935708834
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,641,845 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Arthur Powers went to Brazil in 1969 and lived most his adult life there. From 1985 to 1997, he and his wife served with the Franciscan Friars in the Amazon, doing pastoral work and organizing subsistence farmers and rural workers' unions in a region of violent land conflicts. The Powers currently live in Raleigh North Carolina.

Arthur received a Fellowship in Fiction from the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, three annual awards for short fiction from the Catholic Press Association, and 2nd place in the 2008 Tom Howard Fiction Contest. His poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in many magazines & anthologies. He is the author of A Hero For The People: Stories From The Brazilian Backlands (Press 53, 2013) and The Book of Jotham (Tuscany Press, 2013).

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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I really enjoyed the collection of short stories and found it to be very informative and moving.
booknerd
Arthur Powers, a Harvard lawyer, spent a great part of his adult life living a simple lifestyle as a Catholic Lay Worker in Brazil.
Jim McCarville
The characters of these stories haunted this reader as each tale wove a person of depth, and profound uniqueness.
Karen Kelly Boyce

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Gregory Tague on May 14, 2013
Format: Paperback
A Hero for the People: Stories of the Brazilian Backlands by Arthur Powers is a stirring narrative about the people, history, and culture of Brazil. At root are the working-class men and women who sparkle with delight and labor in pain - and the reader is implicated intimately in their elemental emotions and vital experiences. In addition to the memorable characters (both good and bad), Brazil itself is dynamic, at times affecting the movements and outcome of some human actions, and at other times a foil, setting into relief a character's joy or sorrow. Powers has a brilliant gift for negotiating the real and the imaginative: characters based in fact are yet inventively luminescent and sincere or opaque and threatening. This is a book where otherwise parched historical details become life stories worth imbibing, remembering, and repeating. These are stories about people on the edge, in the margins, and at times in strangely grim (even life-threatening) circumstances. Readers walk away from this book as if having been part of severely dark episodes in the lives of many sympathetic people. Some of the broad themes Powers tackles (both local and universal) include: fear and violence, steadfastness and caring, possession and theft, faith and forgiveness. The book quivers under a weight of the great possibility that an oppressed and forgotten people in search of (and waiting for) their hero will find salvation lodged in the genes of their own heritage.Read more ›
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Karen Kelly Boyce on June 17, 2013
Format: Paperback
When you read the work of a Master it causes a spiritual reaction that keeps you wanting more. When I first received A Hero for the People by Arthur Powers, I thought I would just read it fast. Short Stories are like that, something you can read quickly with each story being like a chapter. However, this collection of stories was different. I couldn't just rush through them. I couldn't go from one story to another. I had to pause after each story while my very soul took in the pulse, feel, and profound knowledge that each tale imparted.

It could be Brother Michel who in humility underestimates his own value, or Jack whose premonition startles the reader. It could be Carla who learns to see the dark pain in another's soul or Dave who finds his own dark side in his treatment of the evil Tumbao. The characters of these stories haunted this reader as each tale wove a person of depth, and profound uniqueness. I would read one story and thinking it was the best character portrayal I had ever read be blown away by the next story. Powers captures the very essence of each character and creates a collection of tales that is unforgettable.

I knew little about Brazil or the problems of the people who live there. After reading these stories, I have an increased sense of who Brazilians are and what these special people face as the country develops and faces the future. I understand because these stories have been written by a master storyteller. I don't know if Powers has any Irish blood in him but he is a true seanchai'. A seanchai was a storyteller who roamed around the Irish countryside and kept the ancient and unwritten stories of the Irish people alive by telling the tales and passing them on. Powers has done that for the Brazilians.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bernardo Aparicio on June 3, 2013
Format: Paperback
It's enough to read just the first of these "stories of the Brazilian backlands" to realize that this author has been there, that he *knows* exactly what (and who) he's talking about. It's not a knowledge born of research, but of an intimate experience of the place and its people. The clearest sign of this, I think, is that I encountered each of the major characters in the book, no matter how different his or her life situation might seem from mine, not as a "type," but as a unique, relatable individual. Powers has immersed himself in the stories that define this world of stark, startling contrasts, and allows the reader to enter it with him. What you'll discover is a place where the comfortable distractions of modernity have been pared back, where you can look straight into the real stuff of life. In these stories, love and hate, justice and iniquity, courage and cowardice, are not romantic abstractions but matters of life and death. And while it is true that many of these stories deal with situations of great suffering and outrageous injustice, there is at the same time a sense of hope and expectation of deliverance that undergirds the broader narrative. Not for nothing is the book titled "A Hero for the People." I highly recommend this collection.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Reinhard VINE VOICE on September 3, 2013
Format: Paperback
This is a book I stumbled upon. I didn't expect it to be good, much less at the "write to the author and ask for an interview" level. I didn't expect much from it.

I found myself, about a third of the way through the book, checking to see if it was a memoir or a collection of stories. For me, this speaks to a few things.

First, it was so well-written that, as fiction, it seemed real. As in, "pinch me, I'm riding shotgun across Brazil" real.

Second, I'm not a big fan of most memoirs (but yes, I love a good story, so there's that). The fact that I was LIKING this even though I thought it was a memoir (or I wasn't sure) was a big thumbs up for the writing and storytelling.

I always forget how much I enjoy collections of stories. They're like assorted hard candies...if you don't like one, it's not such a big deal because there's a good one coming up soon. In this bag of stories, though, there weren't any bad ones.

Each story in this is crafted and fine-tuned. They leave you satisfied and yet wanting more.

There's an adventure and, within that, a deeper theme. You almost get the sense that you're traveling along through Brazil's backlands, and that the people there, while delightfully unique, aren't so different from you. There's a taste to this book that made me look up Powers's other work.

Dare I say this is literature? Maybe. At the very least, it's a book I really, really, REALLY enjoyed, with a wow on top.
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