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Nine Nights by Bernardo Carvalho Review

Title: Nine Nights

Author: Bernardo Carvalho

First published January 1, 2002

288 pages, Hardcover

ISBN: 9780434012954 (ISBN10: 0434012955)

Rating: 3.58


Bernardo Carvalho’s Nine Nights is a haunting exploration of the human psyche on the fringes of society. Set in the heart of the Amazonian basin in 1939, the story follows the tragic death of a young American ethnologist.

He leaves behind seven letters with conflicting explanations for his suicide, leaving those around him to unravel the truth. In the present, the narrator becomes consumed with the search for an eighth letter, convinced that it holds the key to the young man’s untimely demise.

As he delves deeper into the mystery, the narrator’s obsession threatens to consume him entirely. A powerful and unforgettable novel in the tradition of Naipaul, Faulkner, and Conrad, Nine Nights is a must-read for anyone seeking a thought-provoking exploration of the human condition.

About the Author

Meet Bernardo Carvalho, a celebrated Brazilian writer and journalist born in Rio de Janeiro in 1960. Carvalho boasts a wealth of experience, having served as the editor of the essay supplement Folhetim, and as a correspondent for Folha de São Paulo in Paris and New York.

His first two books were published in France.

Carvalho’s literary talent has been recognized with numerous awards. In 2003, his novel Mongólia was honored with the APCA prize from the São Paulo Association of Art Critics in the category of fiction.

Prior to that, he shared the prestigious Prêmio Portugal Telecom de Literatura Brasileira with Dalton Trevisan for their respective novels Nove Noites and Pico na Veia. With such accolades, it’s no wonder that Carvalho is a beloved figure in the Brazilian literary world.

Editoral Review

Nine Nights by Bernardo Carvalho is a gripping novel that delves deep into the complexities of human relationships, memory, and grief. The renowned Brazilian author, known for his distinct style and penetrating insights, has once again delivered a masterpiece that will leave readers spellbound.

First published in 2002, Nine Nights draws inspiration from the Brazilian custom of holding a ritual mourning ceremony for nine consecutive nights after the death of a loved one. Carvalho weaves this tradition into a haunting narrative that explores the aftermath of a woman’s suicide and its effects on those left behind.

The novel is set in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and the story is told through the perspective of three main characters: a journalist named Marcia, her brother Paulo, and their estranged cousin Julio. As they come together to mourn their cousin Andrea’s death, they are forced to confront their own past trauma, secrets, and regrets.

Carvalho’s writing is masterful, lyrical, and evocative. He has a keen eye for detail and a gift for crafting vivid descriptions that transport the reader to the heart of Rio de Janeiro’s vibrant culture and tumultuous history.

As the story unfolds, Carvalho uses flashbacks and shifting perspectives to reveal the complexities of the characters’ relationships. He explores themes of grief, sexuality, identity, class, and power dynamics with nuance and sensitivity.

However, there are some shortcomings in the novel. The pacing can be slow at times, and some of the characters’ internal monologues can feel overly drawn-out.

Additionally, the ending may not satisfy some readers, as it leaves many questions unanswered. Despite these limitations, Nine Nights is a tour-de-force that showcases Carvalho’s talent as a writer and his keen understanding of human nature.

The novel has garnered critical acclaim for its exploration of Brazilian culture and its universal themes of loss and redemption. For readers who appreciate literary fiction that grapples with complex social and psychological issues, Nine Nights is a must-read.

The novel will leave a lasting impression on anyone who experiences it, and it is sure to spark important conversations about the human condition.

Overall, Nine Nights receives a rating of four out of five stars.

Carvalho’s luminous prose, nuanced characterization, and haunting imagery make it an unforgettable read.