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3.42  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,774 Ratings  ·  149 Reviews
The richest and most sensual novel in years from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the Rabbit series. Two young, beautiful lovers, a black child of the Rio slums and a pampered upper-class white girl, endure privation, violence, and captivity to be together.
Paperback, 272 pages
Published August 27th 1996 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 1994)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,838)
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Jul 20, 2014 Diana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Съвременен, мрачен и еротичен прочит на легендата за Тристан и Изолда, емоционално пътуване към Бразилия в периода 1966-1988, задъхваща се между репресиите на военната диктатура и икономическия подем, граничещ с чудо и последвалите стачки, криза и неуправляаема инфлация.

Тристао и Изабел са събирателни образи на тогавашното поколение, носещи не само контрастите на телата си, черно и бяло, но и в манталитетите на двата паралелно съществуващи свята, на мизерията и охолството. Бягайки от оживеното к
Fritz Graham
Jan 16, 2011 Fritz Graham rated it really liked it
I just finished reading "Brazil" by Updike. I don't like how I feel about it. in all honesty, I can't sit here and say it wasn't well written. I think that the story's pace, plot development and overall structure (while obviously being a transposed Tristan & Isolde) was well done. Additionally, Updike does a decent job of making his elite, upper class characters sound remarkably similar to what many individuals in other western countries sounded like at the time, and perhaps even now. Namely ...more
Feb 18, 2008 Liz rated it it was amazing
This is fantastic.

The language is brutal and lush, hot and humid. You can feel the rain forrest, even when the main characters aren't physically there.

The story could be reduced to one of interracial love, but it goes so much farther then that. The novel spans about twenty or so years of the lives of the main characters, Isabel, a rich white woman and Tristao, a poor black man (exactly! Tristian and Isolde.)
The tone of this novel is bleak and desperate and dirty. The sex is prolific, loving, ab
Nov 16, 2010 F.R. rated it liked it
Having only previously read Updike’s superb ‘Rabbit’ novels, this Brazilian-set tale of passionate and all consuming love was something of a surprise. Taking ‘Tristan and Iseult’ as a jumping-off point, Updike weaves a love story of social divides, magic realism and some truly dreadful sex scenes.

A poor boy meets a rich girl on a Rio beach and they fall instantly in love. Their family tries to separate them, circumstance throws all it can against them, but they stay together until the end.

The op
Sep 13, 2011 Kevin rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I found the character development of Tristao and Isabel to be a little far-fetched. At the beginning, how is it that Tristao and his brother seem to talk and act in an educated manner, discussing communism, etc, having attained "only enough education to read street signs?" How is it that an upper class Isabel would immediately fall for this slum dog? Why was she so immediately accepting of Tristoa's mother, in spite of her slovenly life style? It didn't add up.

The development of Tristao's shant
Jan 08, 2014 Motunrayo rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
The plot of the book was not according to my liking.
Two people from different extremes fall madly in love and the only thing we know of why they love each other so much is because they are sexually insatiable and have found each other to be compatible in that area. I was honestly expecting much more.
I was not at ease at the stereotypical attributes Updike to the characters depending on their skin colour, e.g. Isabel being a shy and docile sexmate, whereas when she became black she all of sudden
Crystal Belle
Feb 11, 2009 Crystal Belle rated it it was ok
there is so much to say about this novel. at first, i round it interesting the way updike paints a picture of interracial love between a poor black man and a rich white woman. i really thought the novel would address a lot of the issues of race/class in brazil, along with telling an enriching love story. although it was in many ways a social commentary, the addition of fantasy along with a terrible plot really drove me insane. the characters switch places/roles in the end in terms of race which ...more
Nov 05, 2008 Lynn rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Lynn by: Natalie Shea
Such a wonderful read - I couldn't and didn't want to put it down. I cherished each moment I got to pick it up and get lost in it's world. I saved this book for my recent vacation to a tropical Caribbean island and it couldn't have been a more perfect read for my trip. As I sat on a beach the first day and opened the book, the first chapter was so fittingly titled "The Beach". Doesn't get much more perfect than that.

I have so far read two other books by Updike and I'm very glad I read them first
Oct 23, 2007 Laura rated it really liked it
while definitely well written, it also seems old fashioned and of a later time period than it actually is. It is about this intense love story between a white girl and a black boy in Brazil in a time where that is not excepted, especially by the girls wealthy and powerful family. its a common story, but his detail of their love is very honest about the balence of power in a couple and this impenetrable selflishness we all have. it was interesting to learn about brazil through the context of this ...more
Nikolai Stavrogin
Apr 10, 2016 Nikolai Stavrogin rated it it was amazing
წიგნი კი არა, კაცი რომ ყოფილიყო, ჩემი უდიდესი სიყვარული ვიპოვე-მეთქი, ვიტყოდი <3
Feb 28, 2015 Shane rated it liked it
Modeled on the legend of Tristan and Iseult, Updike brings the pair of doomed lovers to Brazil and chronicles 22 years in that country’s history from the 1960’s to the 1980’s.

Tristao is black and from the favela, a street urchin who has to rob and kill in order to survive, who is introduced to sex with older women as a matter of course by his prostitute mother who has never borne more than one child from each of her clients, although she has borne several of different hues between black and whit
Alex Beloglazovs
Mar 16, 2016 Alex Beloglazovs rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Вещь более чем неожиданная для читателя знакомого с Апдайком по его более известным произведениям, таким как “Кентавр” или трилогия Кролика. Вместо привычных провинциальных северо-американских городков в этот раз нам показывают Бразилию. Туда же забрасывает героев кельтского эпоса Тристана и Изольду. Признаюсь, если бы не был предупрежден о том что они это они - никогда не догадался бы. Магическая любовь, скитания и трагичный финал - пожалуй вот и все совпадения.

Былинный слог, красочная мифологи
Stephen Gallup
A black teenager from the slums spots a virginal white product of the upper class on a beach in Rio. He gallantly presents her with a ring he has recently stolen at knifepoint from a ianque tourist, and she responds by taking him home and to bed, and then slips away from her minders to join him in his hardscrabble life (bringing along a wad of cash stolen from her uncle).


Patiently reading along, I looked for motivations. Neither of them has known much if any parental love. It's reasonable to
Carlos Manzano
Mar 03, 2014 Carlos Manzano rated it really liked it
El primer mérito de esta obra es el cuidado y la brillantez con que está escrita. Updike es un maestro en el arte de la narración, y aquí da sobradas muestras de su talenta. La novela nos cuenta el viaje existencial de dos jóvenes que, contra sus propios condicionantes de clase (él es negro y ella es blanca, el viene de las favelas de Río y ella de una familia de clase alta brasileña), deciden por encima de cualquier otra circunstancia vivir su vida en común como pareja, como marido y mujer, lo ...more
Stephen Phillips
Mar 16, 2012 Stephen Phillips rated it really liked it
I think I've said this before, but its hard for me to give John Updike's books less than four stars most of the time. His writing is always so eloquent even if his plot is lacking or pacing seems slow. In Brazil's case, I did find it to be a bit dull at times, but only because I felt like the two main characters were just reincarnations of the classic Tristan and Isolde/Romeo and Juliet mold, which I later found to be true. I was at first intrigued by the interracial romance, but then became fru ...more
Michael Burroughs
Jan 10, 2014 Michael Burroughs rated it liked it
The story in a nutshell: Brazilian street-kid meets privileged white girl. They fall in love. Privileged white girls' father forbids it. The two young lovers run away into the Brazilian wildernesses. Jungle shaman works some magic and privileged white girl becomes a black woman while black street-kid becomes a white man. They make their way back to civilization where they are now accepted as a couple. They settle into a somewhat stereotypical nuclear family. Black street-kid now turned into a wh ...more
Jan 19, 2016 Nathaniel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: must-read
I have a confession. I walked away no longer liking the characters. What started as a raw and unforgiving love story without morals continued to be so till the end. This story would make a horrible Hollywood script. All through it I was simultaneously reminded of the depravity of being human and yet the hope that love gives us. For a better future, even when we have sank to our lowest and think we can do no more harm.
I will never forget this story. It is definitely one that will "stick to your
Paul Pelzers
Apr 02, 2016 Paul Pelzers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Een vlucht uit het paradijs en vervolgens de totale metamorfose.

"Hij is zwart en komt uit een krottenwijk. Zij is blank en rijk".

John Updike werd geïnspireerd door de middeleeuwse legende van Tristan en Isolde en situeerde dit verhaal, dat in 1995 verscheen, in het moderne Brazilië. Het meisje vlucht uit het paradijs voor de gorilla's van haar vader. In ruil mag zij zich geliefd voelen door de exotische jongen. De adonis vlucht voor het troosteloze bestaan van de krottenwijk. Beide personages o
Oct 08, 2014 Rosalind rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Pedro Varanda
Sep 13, 2014 Pedro Varanda rated it it was ok
Livro preenchido de clichês e lugares-comuns, onde tudo se torna previsível desde a primeira página. Daqueles livros que entram depressa em esquecimento. Felizmente.
Dec 22, 2015 Nina rated it liked it
I struggled with this one a bit. I didn’t like it and may never read anything by Updike again, but I don’t really think I can give it one or two stars since it’s an academically interesting text. Updike’s perceptions and generalizations in reference to race (coupled with eroticization of the other re: sexuality) and Brazil are HIGHLY problematic and cringe worthy. But this star crossed lovers story (whether intentional or not) addresses the inability to escape the impact of colonization and the ...more
Mar 03, 2016 Veronique rated it really liked it
This was a shockingly sensual and beautiful work of fiction. If one can get over some of the overtly sexual descriptions and move beyond, one is rewarded by a great work of fiction.
It is a novel that speaks to the reality of the human condition, one that , though set in Brazil, could be encountered anywhere in the world, where racial inequality, poverty, and violence co-exist with the abundance and ease of the privileged.
Updike lets us imagine what it would be like if that co-existence could b
Dec 07, 2015 Śrī rated it really liked it
Brazil has been the only John Updike novel that I've read so far, so I can't comment on him as an author or his style. However, I will say this is not a book I read for its plot as much as for the writing itself. To be honest, it is pretty clear how this book would end from the moment the story begins. The characters aren't exactly compelling individuals, but specimens of a type. Tristao is the romantic hero, and Isobel is the romantic heroine. We all know what happens in a romantic tragedy; eve ...more
Robbie Bruens
There is little doubt in my mind that this is a bad book, and a poor way for me to acquaint myself with Updike, who I'm sure has written many better books. But I was in a hostel in Brazil and this was in the exchange and I had something to trade in so here we are. I'll certainly admit it's not entirely without merit. There are more than a few beautiful sentences in it, and even many terrific passages that trick you into thinking you're reading a good novel. But then there's Updike's insistence o ...more
D.L Parker
Aug 11, 2014 D.L Parker rated it liked it
So...Updike, he really writes about sex a lot.
This was my introduction to Updike, afterwards, I read a election of his poetry and one short story. I plan to read a few other of his novels (Couples probably), but Brazil was my first and it stood out to me.
Updike is a brilliant writer, his prose is luminous, rich, and a tad-bit purpley at times, which isn't a bad thing. Its almost shocking how good he writes even about the most mundane things, which in the hands of another writer would have come o
Chad Bearden
Jun 26, 2010 Chad Bearden rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
John Updike's 'Brazil' is a strange blend of emaculately detailed reality and ridiculously artificial melodrama, which, based on what I've read about the country, is a pretty accurate description.

When mood-setting is called for, Updike employs inventive and lavish metaphor as only he can to paint pictures dripping with imagery that is virtually tangible. By the halfway point of the novel, he has introduced readers to the three major cities of Brazil (Rio de Janeiro, Sau Paulo, and Brasilia) and
Theddy Blanc
Some novels carefully tug at the strings of readers emotions. They gently caress the pathos, coaxing reactions with surgical precision. John Updike’s “Brazil” tears it away without asking as it throws the reader into the perturbed love life of Tristao and Isabel. Vivid debauchery and heart wrenching tests of love infest the fates of the young Brazilians with the reader in every bar, slum, mansion, mine and brothel bed. Updike explores their woeful plight as he proves love can exist in a world o ...more
Aug 14, 2015 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Low 3. This tale of love across social and racial barriers is also Updike's brief flirtation with magic realism. When Tristao, a black thief from the slums, comes across diplomat's daughter, Isobel on Copacabana beach, their mutual sexual attraction leads to them challenging her family's disappoval and their society's prejudices as to skin colour. Having sought refuge in the favelas, been tracked down and forcibly separated, their passion is such that it drives them to abandon the urbanised coas ...more
Apr 14, 2010 Kate rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Lusophiles, gold prospectors
Recommended to Kate by: General fiction stacks
"Roads are progress, miss, and the man who can drive them is a man of the future."

"We adjust to circumstances quickly, so quickly the spirit thinks the body is a traitor."

"We move forward into darkness, and darkness closes behind."

"Yet the stories, which she could rarely follow to a conclusion, on the scraps of creased and wadded paper, were timeless--the same five or six basic facts of human existence endlessly revolved, like arrows the wounded animals bring back to the hunter's hand in their c
Oct 07, 2012 Kerry rated it liked it
Shelves: world-literature
Starts simply as dirt poor hormonal black boy meets rebellious rich convent educated white girl on Rio beach. After falling in love, unlikely couple run from girl's elitist father to take up simple life together in Sao Paulo where father soon rediscovers daughter and seizes her back.

At this point Upton takes off and goes wild, his story escapes into gold mining jungle escape adventure. He conjures up some interesting sorcery, makes a foray into slavery, naturally, sexual encounters continue unab
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John Hoyer Updike was an American writer. Updike's most famous work is his Rabbit series (Rabbit, Run; Rabbit Redux; Rabbit Is Rich; Rabbit At Rest; and Rabbit Remembered). Rabbit is Rich and Rabbit at Rest both won Pulitzer Prizes for Updike. Describing his subject as "the American small town, Protestant middle class," Updike is well known for his careful craftsmanship and prolific writing, havin ...more
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“We are fated to love one another; we hardly exist outside our love, we are just animals without it, with a birth and a death and constant fear between. Our love has lifted us up, out of the dreadfulness of merely living.” 75 likes
“A yawning repetitiveness as of a man who knows few words but will not stop talking.” 1 likes
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