Title: Poncià Vicenzo
Author: Conceição Evaristo
Translated by: Paloma Martinez-Cruz
Poncià Vicenzo is the first novel by the Afro-Brazilian poet, Conceição Evaristo. And thanks to Paloma Martinez-Cruz, English readers can now have the opportunity to savor this beautiful novel that is not only an attestation of Evaristo brilliant skills as a poet but also as a novelist.
The novel focuses on Poncià Vicenzo, her mother, Maria and her brother Luandi José, all Afro-
Brazlians who in order to survive are forced to deal with several oppressions in Brazil pertaining to race, class and gender. (It was quite interesting to learn from my own research that the largest population of black origin outside of Africa resides in Brazil.)
In the introduction, Paloma Martinez-Cruz mentions that “the novel illuminates aspects of urban and rural Latin America conditions with poetic eloquence and raw urgency,” and this just about sums it all up from the very opening pages until its ending.
Our principal character, Poncià Vicenzo was brought up in a family where Catholicism and African spirituality are combined to bring about a hybrid system of beliefs called Candomblé. It is this combination that is an intricate part of Poncià’s personality as well as the novel’s story as we follow her journey from the land of her enslaved ancestors to the difficulties she encounters when she leaves her mother and brother and moves to the city. Unfortunately the same misery that existed prior to her departure continues, however, only now the squalor of the countryside is replaced with violence and indignities of the Brazilian shanty towns.
No doubt, Conceição Evaristo has a deep connection to Poncià Vicenzo, as she likewise was born and grew up in a large slum in Belo Horizonte and this probably explains how her writing demonstrates a deft accuracy in its tone and execution. Scenes and descriptions are delivered in a kind of film-like quality as the author zooms in and out of each moment describing the inner feelings of our principal character.
Poncià Vicenzo is a superb work and its creativity arises in no small measure to Evaristo’s writing talents where her words are carefully and meticulously chosen in a way that mirrors the realness of the world her heroine resides in leaving us sated yet we desire more.
The above review was contributed by: NORM GOLDMAN: Retired Title Attorney: Editor & Publisher of Bookpleasures. Here are Norm Goldman's Reviews