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Crooked Plow
Itamar Vieira Júnior, translated by Johnny Lorenz


'I heard our grandmother asking what we were doing.'"Say something!" she demanded, threatening to tear out our tongues. Little did she know that one of us was holding her tongue in her hand.'

Deep in Brazil's neglected Bahia hinterland, two sisters find an ancient knife beneath their grandmother's bed and, momentarily mystified by its power, decide to taste its metal. The shuddering violence that follows marks their lives and binds them together forever.

Heralded as a new masterpiece and the most important Brazilian novel of this century, this fascinating and gripping story about the lives of subsistence farmers in the Brazil's poorest region, three generations after the abolition of slavery in that country is at once fantastic and realist, covering themes of family, spirituality, slavery and its aftermath and political struggle.


Itamar Vieira Junior was born in Salvador, Bahia, in 1979. He holds a doctorate in Ethnic and African Studies. Before Crooked Plow, he published a collection of short stories entitled The Executioner's Prayer, which was nominated for Brazil's biggest literary award, the Jabuti. Crooked Plow won the prestigious 2018 LeYa Award in Portugal.


"A leading voice among the Black authors who have jolted Brazil’s literary establishment in recent years with imaginative and searing works that have found commercial success and critical acclaim." -- New York Times

"One of the great novels of the year..." -- João Céu e Silva, Diário de Notícias

"A tour de force of injustice, tragedy, affection and human dignity reminiscent of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables or John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, Vieira Júnior’s book garnered top literary prizes in Portugal and Brazil. Its author has drawn comparisons to Jorge Amado, the giant of Brazilian letters who introduced the magic and plight of Afro-Brazilians to the world." -- Americas Quarterly

"Beautiful, powerful and moving, he presents us with great literature with a simplicity that torments." -- Pessoa Magazine

"Vieira Junior conveys the girls' childhood confusion and wonder in hypnotic prose, and he brings the close-knit Água Negra to life. This heralds the arrival of a welcome voice." -- Publishers Weekly

"Among the laudable feats Vieira Junior accomplishes in this novel is the way it gradually moves from a highly specific story to one with implications for a region's entire working class. A stirring, lived-in novel of struggles both personal and societal." -- starred review, Kirkus Reviews

[P]  Verso Fiction  /  June 27, 2023

 0.9" H x 7.8" L x 5.0" W (0.5 lbs) 288 pages