Azevedo, Francisco "Once Upon a Time in Rio" (O Arroz de Palma) - 2008
A beautiful story of an immigrating family, a Portuguese couple that settles in Brazil, has their children and their work. Their son tells the story over a whole century. How his aunt collected the rice thrown at his parents' wedding and passed it on as a lucky charm.
The author has a wonderful way of telling this story, as lovely as most of the Southern American storytellers I love so much. He has a beautiful voice, knows well how to jump back and forth between the decades, weaves a family tale that is exceptional. He tells about beautiful members of the dynasty, both inside and out, how they link together, the small and the big dsiputes that you will find in any family, the love they share, the dreams they dream. The narrator "cooks" a family story, the recipe is easy and yet complicated. In the end, we have a wonderful book to read. A brilliant family saga.
From the back cover: "From well-known Brazilian playwright Francisco Azevedo, a heartwarming debut novel about three generations of a family whose kitchen contains the secret ingredient for happiness - sure to appeal to fans of Like Water for Chocolate.
Once Upon a Time in Rio is a spellbinding family saga beginning with José Custódio and Maria Romana and their search for a prosperous future. As newlyweds, José and Maria immigrated to Brazil at the beginning of the twentieth century, accompanied by a special gift. During the dinner preparations to celebrate their centenary wedding anniversary, their eldest son Antonio, already a grandfather, looks back at the lives of his parents, his aunt, his brothers, their children and grandchildren, as well as his own.
Antonio knows that family is a difficult dish to get right and that happiness must be cooked up day by day; however, what separates his family from any other is its possession of a secret ingredient for happiness: the sack of magical rice given to his parents on their wedding day. With the help of the rice, whose magic is as old as fire and time, Antonio's family has been guided through the most trying of life's tribulations.
Lyrically written, Once Upon a Time in Rio bares the fragile yet strong nature of the human spirit and with great insight captures the solace provided by loved ones in times of need. Already an international bestseller, this is a beautifully told tale about the wisdom of past generations and the inextricable ties of family."