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Heliopolis Paperback – October 20, 2010
Top Customer Reviews
Telling Ludo's story through flashbacks and foreshadowings of things to come in the future, Scudamore quickly establishes the atmosphere and the dramatic contrasts between the lives of the poor and those of the rich in a city with virtually no middle class. In a touching and revealing scene at the opening of the novel, Ludo, in his twenties, is killing time during a traffic jam before work, exploring a neighborhood in the process of redevelopment. A fifteen-year-old boy, a grifter, is begging for money from two women in the square. Egged on by Ludo, the boy then approaches the wrong person to ask for money, and disaster strikes. Though Ludo blames himself for what happens, the event is ultimately "just one more frenzied city drama in a thousand, to be forgotten and absorbed into the oozing traffic, and perhaps mentioned in passing over lunch."
Caught between the world of the favela, which he does not remember, and the world of the rich, to which he feels he does not really belong, Ludo is unsure of his place in the world.Read more ›
Ludo is a boy who was born to a single mother in a favela, where the only opportunities available to escape soul crushing poverty are in the illegal drug trade or prostitution. He and his mother are discovered by a wealthy businessman, Zé Generoso, who controls his family, employees and associates with a ready smile and an iron will, and his philanthropic but detached wife Rebecca. The couple bring Ludo and his mother to their suburban mansion, which serves as their weekend getaway. Ludo is befriended by their beautiful daughter Melissa, and is provided with every opportunity to succeed by Zé, who recognizes his drive and intelligence. He "works" for one of his father's friends in a marketing firm during the day, spending much of his time sleeping off hangovers or thinking about Melissa, who shares her bed with him when her idealistic but neglectful husband is out of town. Despite his success Ludo is restless and unsatisfied, as he repeatedly takes personal and professional risks that threaten to unravel his playboy lifestyle -- or endanger his life.
Heliopolis was a far better read than I originally expected it to be. It is taut and fast paced, but also lush and well written, with excellent character development, and there are enough twists and turns to keep the reader fully engaged. It deserves its place amongst this year's Booker Prize longlisted novels, and is highly recommended.
The adolescent Ludo develops extremely close ties with Ze's daughter Melissa, a relationship that carries into adulthood and threatens his peace of mind and her marriage. Through Ze's connections, Ludo gets hired as an advertising executive. Disaffected at his day job, Ludo is increasingly drawn to the street life of the slums adjacent to his office. He's struggling to reconcile how the place he has arrived at connects with the place he came from. When Ze decides to build budget supermarkets to sell meat and produce to the poor, Ludo gets assigned to put the correct advertising spin on the project. As he ponders the project, and his history with Ze, Ludo can't sort out the big-hearted philanthropy from base opportunism.
The head of Ludo's agency decides to invite the occupants of the surrounding slum to a launch party for the new supermarkets. Worlds collide, but the fireworks Scudamore has built toward fizzle somewhat at the end. But even if the climax is slightly flat, the novel shows us a place we tend to ignore or experience only through the caricature of newspaper headlines.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A real atmospheric tale. Made you feel the heat on every levelPublished 19 months ago by Agnes V. Wyman
This is a brilliant book : I loved the names of the chapters and the involvement (though not obsession) with cooking. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Anthony Peter Swallow
The title Heliopolis is both a metaphor for the action of the book and gives you perspective on where the characters are placed. Read morePublished on July 30, 2013 by Lance
Read this book, it was good, not the greatest book I ever read, but a good read of fiction that doesn't require a lot of thinking.Published on December 29, 2012 by Amazon Customer