Talking Location With author Leigh Russell – YORK
The Book of Rio (Reading The City)
Location(s): Rio de Janeiro
It’s the city the rest of the world descends on to party…. whether for the spectacular annual Carnival, the sun-kissed beaches, the World Cup, or, in 2016, the Olympics. It’s also a place that’s sadly become synonymous with some of the excesses of partying, the dark underbelly that accompanies any urban hedonist’s destination. But these are just two images of Rio. There are countless others: opulent seat of two former empires; stronghold of brutal, twentieth-century dictatorships; sprawling metropolis stretched between stunning mountain tops and equally stunning economic extremes – from the affluence of neighbourhoods like Leblon and Ipanema, to the overcrowded slums in the foothills, the favelas.
This anthology brings together ten short stories that go beyond the postcards and snapshots, and introduce us to real residents of Rio – the cariocas: young hopefuls training to be the next stars of samba, exhausted labourers press-ganged into meeting an impossible construction deadline (the nation’s pride being at stake), bored call-girls, nostalgic drag queens, married couples having petty middle-class domestics…. These are characters who’ve developed a deep understanding of Rio’s contradictions, a way of living with the grey areas – between the grime and the glitz – that make Rio the ‘marvellous city’ it is.
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