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City of God

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  1,110 Ratings  ·  81 Reviews

The searing novel on which the internationally acclaimed hit film was based, City of God is a gritty, gorgeous tour de force from the Brazilian street. Cicade de Deus, the City of God, is one of Rio's most notorious slums. Yet it is also a place where samba rocks till dawn, where the women are the most beautiful on earth, and where one young man wants to escape his backgro

Paperback, 448 pages
Published September 14th 2006 by Grove Press, Black Cat (first published 1997)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,776)
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Shannon Berry
May 03, 2010 Shannon Berry rated it it was amazing
After reading "City of God" my perception has definitely changed in the way that MEN, no, BOYS...are so easily swayed by evil and the evils of the world. The young men in the book succumbed to be products of their harsh environment because their mentality was "kill or be killed" or "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

The novel was written in a way where there was not a particular "linear" story line. It was scattered and jumpy which added to Brazil's City of God's unpredictable and disheartening
Jan 12, 2012 Bianca rated it it was ok
Not comparable to the film, by any means. In this ONE case, the film is probably better than the book. With that said, the film wouldn't be so great if the book wasn't written first, to provide a story for the film to be based off of. And yes, I just ended that sentence with a preposition. :)

At any rate, the book has soooo many characters (almost like a Tolstoy novel!) and people are dying at an unhealthy rate, it's a little difficult to keep track of who wronged who and who's serving up revenge
Oct 13, 2008 George rated it it was ok
An endless cycle of violence, some of which is quite disturbing. No plot at all.
Jukka Kuva
Feb 12, 2013 Jukka Kuva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
City of God was, and is, a place of endless violence. Mob bosses have way more power in the favela of Rio de Janeiro than brazilian government and they change on a weekly basis as a younger gangster decides to kill the old boss. Very few can escape the cycle. Paulo Lins was one of those few. When he had got out, he wrote a book about his childhood neighbourhood and things he saw. That book is City of God. Lins' writing is just like the story it tells. Very harsh. Plain dialogue, jumps from scene ...more
Marija I
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aaron Weinman
Aug 23, 2012 Aaron Weinman rated it really liked it
Thoroughly enjoyed this. While the plot may be confusing, the main theme of violence through adversity and evil as a mainstay (in the slums) is well expressed and carried through the generations - this is evident when depicting characters who have known nothing but corruption, violence and squalor for their respective lives. Despite the convoluted plot, it's entertaining enough to follow and you can't help but feel for so many characters and their plight. Maybe the translation from Portuguese to ...more
Oct 04, 2016 Yuri rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Uma pedra que a equipe do Meirelles e da Kátia Lund soube ordenhar até a última gota de leite. Muita enrolação, personagens e conflitos mal elaborados, banalização da violência estilo filme de ação dos anos 80 que só morre figurante e tá lá os bicho-solto da bandidagem dando tiro a torto e a direito, erotismo de pornochanchada... Trocando em miúdos: só ideia errada. Só a primeira parte é aproveitável e mesmo assim enche linguiça. Quem quiser ler alguma coisa nessa linha, vai atrás do Meridiano d ...more
Newton Nitro
Oct 08, 2015 Newton Nitro rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Li esse livro em dois dias, sem parar, te tanto que fiquei impressionado, chocado, e agarrado pelo pescoço com a narrativa brutal de quase duas décadas de violência e brutalidade das gangues de criminosos de Cidade de Deus. Paulo Lins construiu um mosaico das vidas dos habitantes desse período, principalmente dos que se envolveram com o crime, gangues de jovens delinquentes que, através dos anos setenta, e granças ao tráfico de drogas, são levados por uma espiral crescente de violência, brutalid ...more
Jan 05, 2015 Jacob rated it it was amazing
I hate how much I love the movie for this novel, it's filmed incredibly well, tells a fascinating story and holds no punches. Now I realise just how faithful it is to the nearly 500 page novel, which is incredibly impressive once you realise the film is just a little over 2 hours long.

But this isn't a review on the film, it's about the novel. Pablo Lins actually lived in the City of God in his youth, but managed to escape with his life and achieve better things. This non linear novel tells of th
Aug 13, 2010 Christian rated it really liked it
An utterly different creature than the film, which merely mined it for a handful of snippets. By the first 50 pages we are already way beyond the thematic scope of the film which only sought to offend middle-class western standards of what is acceptable violence. The book goes far beyond this to paint a vast and intricate image of how poverty, drugs and gun violence, sustained over decades, creates a lethal -- yet mundane -- new grammar of interpersonal relations, where depth is replaced by d... ...more
Jul 19, 2010 S10_Matthew rated it really liked it
Shelves: international
I watched the film version of City of God, directed by Fernando Meirelles. The film follows kids in the City of God, a slum of Rio de Janeiro. It is an unforgiving world, where people are raped and murdered on a whim. For example, Little Z, a leading gang lord, got his start after his older brother robs a brothel. As they leave, he walks in and murders everyone, laughing all the way. He is 9 years old at the time. The violence is relentless and even more jarring when juxtaposed with the scenes i ...more
Aug 04, 2013 Vanessa rated it it was amazing
One of my all time favourite movies, now I have finally finished reading the novel. I must admit, this book took me forever to read, as I kept putting it down. That being said once I decided to put my mind to it to read it by the end of my kid's summer I actually couldn't put it down.

My mind has problems with so many characters and stories. But each character in this book was very important to the plot. This book is not for the squimish. In fact, neither is the movie, but if you've seen the mov
Mar 18, 2015 Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Este é um dos poucos casos em que o filme realmente é melhor que o livro.

Como o autor faz questão de indicar no inicio e no fim do livro, a história é ficção, mas é inspirada em factos reais, inspirado pelas enrevistas feitas para um documentário.

Apesar de começar por ser um romance, a medida que se aproxima do fim o livro começa a parecer-se mais com um documentário e a história começa a perder consistencia, passa a ser só um conjunto de episódios.

Apesar de estar dividido em 3 partes, cada uma
Clayton Adamson
Jun 11, 2014 Clayton Adamson rated it really liked it
7.4/10 Stars. A story about numerous adolescents, struggling to survive in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. The book is broken down into 3 time sections, with several ongoing characters. A handful of characters are likable, however there are way too many insignificant characters, and at points it is confusing. The first section is by far the best, but then it drags on quite a bit.

It can be described as interlocking anecdotes rather than a fluent story. A good book for someone who is looking for gor
Feb 12, 2016 Fee rated it really liked it
This has been one of my favorite movies for a while. If you have not seen it, it makes Scarface look like a PG movie. The book goes deeper into the protags and the antags. If you think what you see in the movie is bad or graphic, times it by five when you read the novel. Right now Hollywood is glorifying some Clooney movie how his wife is cheating on him and his daughter confronts him about it. Then he goes on a venture to see if its true and probably becomes friends with the guy or some bullshi ...more
Feb 06, 2015 Krestan rated it it was amazing
The dumbest ending I have ever read in a book. However, the action was dark and fast paced and I did find myself in shock/awe/disgust at different point in the novels. Everyone died (ehh for the most part) except for the person I really wanted to which was annoying. I stopped reading for a while and tried to pick it back up but I struggled because I really forgot where I left off- try to read it straight though. Still a good book though, very vivid descriptions.
Apr 13, 2009 Rich rated it liked it
This book is marred by the fact that I saw the film adaptation which benefits from having a narrator/character (The novel was translated to English after the film became popular.)

Both the novel is better identified as a true crime story with an omniscient narrator who jumps around revealing the most brutal and intimate details of the lives of gangster's and regular people alike. It's a "thick" book which has moments of beautiful prose and moments where the violence is almost porn-like. Lins make
Mar 29, 2009 Dlrayscience rated it liked it
Certainly a fascinating topic and setting, and well worth reading. However, as a novel, I found City of God a bit confusing at times, and lacking in descriptiveness as well as in depth. Few of the characters really grab the reader by the heart -- though the fact that they actually existed and lived the lives portrayed is at least intellectually fascinating. In general, I feel like the novel needed some grounding in a character with whom international readers could identify to help them better pe ...more
Jun 28, 2013 Kenza rated it liked it
The stories were so powerful. However, at the beginning I didn't find any literary taste for them. After page 60, I started feeling the language beats as usually spoken by gangsters. I was so touched by the parts of rape and when Tiny out of self-conscience admitted that he committed all those acts because of his feeling of inferiority. Those intersections of race, patriarchy, ignorance, and politics were well handled by Lins. I felt throughout the book that there were so many things lost in the ...more
Sep 17, 2015 Koleś rated it liked it
Very good insight into life of poor people of City of God. How hellish the life of those people is - mainly because of themselves. How fake concept of "honour" and being "manly" made them commit horrible crimes. In the beginning it was just robberies, then in the next two chapters, worse things. Those chapters represents "epochs" of City of God, but also degradation and spiral of violence and evil, if you ask me. When you have to wonder, who would you like to meet on the street, a gangster, of p ...more
Andy Smith
May 08, 2014 Andy Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book years ago (before interviewing Lins for a book of my own) and I was surprised at how different it is. I've just found the paperback on my shelf, so while I'm waiting for the microwave to ping I'll give it a thumbs up.

Sure, the story is the same, but its the way its told... The film is, well, a film about a kid with a camera living in a favela. The book is a documentary of favela life.

Lins is an academic bred in the favela of the title, and his writing reflects both origins. Hes
Tim Gaines
Jan 03, 2016 Tim Gaines is currently reading it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 23, 2013 Lela rated it really liked it
Difficult review. It's gritty, it's sickening, it's beyond ugly, it's violent and disgusting. It 's bold, it's courageous, it's enlightening, it's beautiful in its honesty. I hated it and I loved it. Give yourself time with this one. Lots of characters so can be confusing. May need a break now and then but do read it .
Sarah Idle
Dec 20, 2015 Sarah Idle rated it really liked it
From the blurb on the back cover, I got a rather skewed idea of what this book would be about. The wannabe photographer is a bit character who doesn't turn up until about three quarters of the way in, and then very briefly.

The overriding feeling from City of God was of utter bleakness and despair. When I got to the end of the book, I felt like there was no hope or goodness in the world.

This book is hard to read. Graphic depictions of sexual violence, brutal bloody violence, and senseless wickedn
Pasatoiu George
Oct 30, 2014 Pasatoiu George rated it really liked it
City of God is probably the most violent book I have read so far. The favelas from Rio de Janeiro are harsh and cruel places, and almost everyone that lives there is either condemned to a life of crimes, either a collateral victim of this violent environment. Living here is similar to facing a vortex that catches everything in its path and leaves behind only ashes and destruction - the chances of you getting unharmed of its way seem minimal. The favela is the scene for constant armed fights betw ...more
Feb 23, 2014 Lulu rated it really liked it
Wow!!! There was so much more violence in this book than in the movie. So many characters are introduced and killed off that it was hard for me to keep up, but overall it was the same nature of the movie and very realistic.
Russell Stevens
Dec 09, 2009 Russell Stevens rated it liked it
A raw look at growing up in the favelas of Rio. Uniquely written from different perspectives and converging story lines. The translator took liberties with translating slang and it oft times uses cruder language than necessary.
Carmilla Voiez
Jul 20, 2015 Carmilla Voiez rated it it was amazing
A disturbing yet beautiful tale of young males who grow up in one of the most dangerous places in the world. It's a tale of drugs, violence, murder, robbery, rape and revenge. It's the tale of limited choices that bring almost everyone to the same place, willingly or not, at some point in their lives. It's a tale of brutal policing and leaving poor people to wipe each other out. It's a tale of war, but never peace. A tale of desperation. A tale of extreme suffering. If you can stomach all these ...more
Damien Travel
May 07, 2016 Damien Travel rated it liked it
« City of God (Cidade de Deus) » – which would be difficult to confuse for Saint Augustine’s eponymous theological masterpiece – is a partly autobiographical novel by Paulo Lins who grew up in this favela West of Rio. Violence, drugs, loyalty and treasons, friendships and love: the kids in the favelas are quick to become gangsters, leading a colorful life defying police and rival gangs, but some of them secretly long for a quiet life with wife and children.

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Translate versions 1 10 Oct 03, 2008 09:46AM  
  • El País del Carnaval
  • Vestido de Noiva
  • Anarquistas, Graças a Deus
  • Ana Terra
  • Angústia
  • O Encontro Marcado
  • Éramos Seis
  • O Cheiro do Ralo
  • Morte e Vida Severina
  • O Que é Isso, Companheiro?
  • Lavoura Arcaica
  • Estação Carandiru
  • Memorial de Aires
  • Family Ties
  • Olga – A vida de Olga Benário Prestes, judia comunista entregue a Hitler pelo governo de Vargas
  • The Centaur in the Garden
  • Viva O Povo Brasileiro
  • Macunaíma
Paulo Lins é um escritor brasileiro que ganhou fama com a publicação, em 1997, do livro "Cidade de Deus", sobre a vida nas favelas do Rio de Janeiro, escrito enquanto assistente de um estudo sociológico.
Morador da favela carioca Cidade de Deus, começou como poeta nos anos 1980 como integrante do grupo Cooperativa de Poetas, por onde publicou seu primeiro livro de poesia, "Sobre o Sol" (UFRJ, 1986)
More about Paulo Lins...

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“But can one actually see beauty with eyes blurred by the lack of almost everything a human being needs?” 9 likes
“Words are born in thought, leaving lips, they acquire soul in the ears, yet sometimes this auditory magic does not make it as far as the mouth because it is swallowed dry.” 5 likes
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