2 minute read

Jorge Amado: 1912-2001: Brazilian Novelist

Discovered True Subversion Comes Through Laughter

The first fruit of Amado's new attitude was 1958's Gabriela, cravo e canela. This work, set in Amado's hometown of Ilhéus, tells the story of an impoverished but beautiful woman from the countryside who is hired as a cook by a Syrian-born tavernkeeper, who then makes her his bride. This gentleman's efforts to shape his wife into a proper model of middle-class femininity fail hilariously as she is later discovered in the arms of her husband's friend. Broad comedy, class-based satire, and sex—all elements that were present but relegated to the background in Amado's earlier works—pervade this novel and its wildly successful successor, Dona Flor e seus dois maridos, which was published in 1966. Dona Flor wove menus and recipes throughout a sexy, satirical, and humorous narrative.

Dona Flor e seus dois maridos and Gabriela, cravo e canelawere both made into films starring Brazilian actress Sonia Braga, and each later became a top-rated Brazilian television miniseries. "Jorge Amado's work seduces filmmakers," Nelson Pereira dos Santos told Variety. "All his works are so rich in characters and stories." Several other Amado novels were filmed or made into television series and soap operas, and by the 1980s the onetime exile was something of a national bard, loved by ordinary Brazilians as well as by followers of literature.

Amado remained extremely productive into his old age. A 1984 novel, Tocaia grande, returned to the frontier violence of the writer's youth. He lived to see his books translated into nearly 50 languages. Some younger writers criticized Amado for what they saw as insufficiently serious portrayals of the lives of black Brazilians and Brazilian women, but Amado was quoted by the London Independent as saying that "I came to feel that true subversion comes through laughter and the release it brings; that's one of the most effective ways to deny an oppressor his power over you." Amado died in Salvador, where he had lived for many years, on August 6, 2001.

Selected writings

(With others) Lenita, Coelho Branco Filho, 1930.

Jubiabá, J. Olympio, 1935; translated into English, Avon, 1984.

Capitães da areia, J. Olympio, 1937; translated as Captains of the Sands, Avon, 1988.

Terras do sem fim, Martins, 1942; translated as The Violent Land, Knopf, 1945.

Os subterrâaneos da liberdade, 3 vols., Martins, 1954.

Gabriela, cravo e canela, Martins, 1958; translated as Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon, Knopf, 1962.

Os velhos marinheiros, two stories, Martins, 1961; translated as Home Is the Sailor, Knopf, 1964.

Dona Flor e seus dois maridos, Martins, 1966; translated as Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands, Knopf, 1969.

Tieta do Agresta: Pastora de cabras, Editora Record, 1977; translated as Tieta the Goat Girl, Knopf, 1979.

Tocaia grande, Editora Record, 1984; translated as Showdown, Bantam, 1988.

A descoberta da America pelos turcos, Editora Record, 1994.



Chamberlain, Bobby, Jorge Amado, Twayne Publishers, 1990.

Luis, William, ed., Dictionary of Literary Biography, First Series, Volume 113 (Modern Latin American Fiction Writers), Gale, 1992.


Independent (London, England), August 8, 2001, p. 6.

Los Angeles Times, August 8, 2001, p. B10.

New York Times, August 7, 2001, p. B7.

Variety, March 31, 1997, p. 56.

Washington Post, August 26, 2001, p. T5.


Contemporary Authors Online, www.galenet.com/servlet/BioRC (March 21, 2003).

—James M. Manheim

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: (Hugo) Alvar (Henrik) Aalto (1898–1976) Biography to Miguel Angel Asturias (1899–1974) BiographyJorge Amado: 1912-2001: Brazilian Novelist Biography - Early Works Were Political, Discovered True Subversion Comes Through Laughter