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"Luiza Sauma's debut novel is that rare thing: a completely absorbing, brilliantly-designed, literary work. Her ability to cut across time and continents and to inhabit the physical and inner life of both a young Brazilian and that same man in middle-age is as dazzling as the novel's plot. The reveal, when it comes, is astonishing—sensuous, shocking, and completely earned."—Anita Shreve, New York Times bestselling author of The Pilot’s Wife and Stella Bain
"I devoured this stunning debut by Luiza Sauma. An immersive, heartbreaking coming of age story. Beg, borrow or steal a copy."--Susie Steiner, author of Missing, Presumed
“Luiza Sauma's first novel, Flesh and Bone and Water, is lush and evocative. The secret at the center came as a shocking surprise, and the characters were as haunted as I was. Sip a caipirinha and enjoy.”—Lisa See
“An arresting debut about memory and trauma…resembles Julian Barnes’ 2011 Man Booker winner The Sense of an Ending.”--The Daily Telegraph
"[Sauma's] writing is beautiful. I am sure I'll see her name on the spine of many a novel to come.--Rachel Seiffert, author of the Man Booker-shortlisted The Dark Room
"Sauma's writing is sensual and evocative. Flesh and Bone and Water is a powerful depiction of sexual attraction and long lost loves; a haunting weave of Rio, the Amazon and present-day London."--Ardashir Vakil, award-winning author of Beach Boy
"Sauma's work is engaging, her descriptions of Rio evocative...attuned to the complexities of class and station."--Kirkus Reviews
"A remarkable debut from Brazilian emigrée Luiza Sauma... a wonderful evocation of a privileged Ipanema beach childhood, a searing critique of a deeply divided society and – with its intoxicating combination of tropical heat and overpowering passions – the perfect beach read." – Mariella Frostrup, RadioTimes
About the Author
Luiza Sauma was born in Rio de Janeiro and raised in London. After studying English at the University of Leeds, she worked at the Independent on Sunday for several years. She has an MA in Creative & Life Writing from Goldsmiths, University of London, where she was awarded the Pat Kavanagh Award in 2014. She has also been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Flesh and Bone and Water is her first novel.
A jewel of a book. Well written and well told. The characters and the story told are excellent. Relateable, defining, engaging. The underlying philosophies--of life, of growth, and gaining insight and wisdom--are simple but profound. Excellent.
Flesh and Bone and Water tells a big story in a small way. The novel is a family drama, focusing on one family member and the harm he inadvertently does to his family and future by falling in love.
André Cabral receives a letter from Luana in Brazil. Now living alone in a London flat after separating from his wife, André has not seen Luana in 30 years. He cannot remember her last name, but the letter prompts memories of his Brazilian childhood.
Luana was the daughter of his family’s black maid/nanny. Most of the novel is told in memory: André and his brother Thiago growing up in Rio; their mother’s death; a family visit to Belém, accompanied by Luana; André’s introduction to Esther, his eventual wife, as he attends medical school in London; the deterioration of their marriage as “time rubs away the shine” of love.
Most of the backstory involves André’s forbidden infatuation. Luana is the daughter of a servant and not a fit mate for a boy who will one day become a doctor. But Luana is wrong for André for additional reasons that he does not understand at the time. Eventually, as more letters arrive, André learns a devastating truth about his past.
The story is told in quiet, straightforward prose. There is no melodrama in André’s account of a dramatic moment in his childhood and a dramatic revelation in the present. Much of the novel’s dramatic tension comes from André’s decision to confront the past that he fled when, to his father’s dismay, he settled down in London. There is no going back for André, even when eventually returns to Brazil with his daughter to make an attempt to atone. Like the rest of us, the best André can do is to feel his way forward as he works to reconcile has past and his present.
Flesh and Bone and Water by Luiza Sauma is a free NetGalley ebook that I read I early June.
Andre, his father, and brother travel into the Amazon area of Brazil to the town of Belem with their maid, Rita, and her daughter, the sensuous siren, Luana. A less-than-glamorous and idyllic childhood and teenagerhood occurs from then on for him, before running away to Europe. After settling into a career as a surgeon (like his father before him) with a wife and two daughters, he receives letters (then, gradually, emails) from Luana, tempting him back to the memories of his old life in Brazil and the illusory arms of Luana. But, does it lead him physically back to Belem in search of her? The vague answer: yes, sort of.
Callous privileged youth becomes callous privileged adult who finds himself reflective at long last. This is well written and worthy largely for the Brazilian sections. It's really about race and class than love or regret. Thanks to netgalley for the ARC of this short novel. It's hard to categorize or place in a genre (coming of age/realization?) but it's worth your time for the journey to an (at least for me) unfamiliar setting.
With this novel, Luiza Sauma writes a gripping and layered piece about loss and grief, identity, race, class, and privilege. There are so many important and thought-provoking themes explored in this book, all balanced with a compelling storyline. I can't get it off my mind.
This book was good. I wish there was more to it though. I wish the characters were a little more nuanced and had more depth to them. I wish we would have gotten more of their adult lives. Overall, a very good storyline.
Andre, a GP, has a good life living in London until his wife throws a party for his 45th birthday and a someone there reminds him of Luana, his maid's daughter back in Brazil. Andre grew up in Rio and as a teenager had a passionate fling with Luana - although he was warned against it by his father as they were of such different backgrounds.
A year later he gets a letter out of the blue from Luana and it takes him down memory lane to his teenage years in Brazil and some dark secrets start to emerge
A good story made interesting by the descriptions of living in Brazil 30 years ago and the cultural differences between wealthy doctors and the Luana, and it made me think about going to Brazil which has not appealed to me before!