The Passion of Amâncio Amaro was voted one of the best books published in 2005.

"Although it’s a debut novel, the author shows a mature and vigorous display of language, capable of creating a unique universe of lyricism and humor.
When he renders the village where the story takes place, Laurentino creates an atmosphere that relates to the backlands of Pernambuco, but he keeps something universal, drenched in humanity.”
Bravo! magazine

“One of the most splendid books of generation 00"
Portal Literal literary website

“The characters bear in their pain the pain of the whole world. It is due to this universality that it reaches the status of a great book."
Jornal do Brasil newspaper

“Laurentino is one of these poets that goes beyond verse. His prose uses language as a playful instrument to seduce the reader. One realizes this from the very first lines of The passion of Amâncio Amaro.
[...] The author balances the color of Brazilian culture and the grayness of human pains; the tragic and the outright funny. The relation of his characters between themselves and the world is drenched in symbols, which are unfolded little by little to the reader, making this one of the most fascinating aspects of the novel.”
Correio Braziliense newspaper

"Despite the novel's extraordinary humor, Laurentino slips a trace of sadness into the particular odyssey of each of the three main characters. A sour taste that only ripens the work.
Laurentino is a name not to be forgotten."
O Estado de S. Paulo newspaper

"The novel is remarkable for the craft of its writing. The Passion of Amâncio Amaro evokes references and influences, but goes beyond a mere tribute.
[…] The book casts an ironic look at Brazilian backlands by someone who has left it and no longer lives there, but the language is authentic and local and fluent. The author makes you laugh but also translates the knowledge of people who lead a hard life and proves that in such a life there is also humor and dreaming, even if they are built upon bones and stones.”
Jornal do Brasil newspaper

“[...] Laurentino cultivates his prose, which has certain touches of his inland Pernambuco, but he does not use the regional clichés of the backlands, where the story is set, and to where he travelled in search of inspiration and reconciliation with his past. He has achieved much more than this. He portrays with tenderness and humor, without losing the sadness and strength of harsh concise words, the fears that dwell inside every man.”
IstoÉ Gente magazine

“Laurentino avoids the regional cliché, and goes deep into the characters and conflicts of a small village in the backlands of Pernambuco that could be any place.”
Milton Hatoum, writer

"The Passion of Amancio Amaro is a never ending passion: for sentences, for prose, for the human condition, for the sum of all of this, a daring and surprising passion.
Readers, beware! Not only does André Laurentino capture us from the very first line, but he also plays with us, stealing laughs, sobs and sighs, revolving our most intimate feelings, our memories, our inhibitions, our secret desires.
This debut deserves celebration. I am deeply moved by this overwhelming novel, and now it is all yours. Enjoy it."
Adriana Falcão, writer

About the book

A boy with more than fifty names, a girl that envies the beauty of her own reflection and a man who is always disguised. Three characters and a mutual issue: to find their very identity. The passion of Amâncio Amaro tells the story of sensitive types that are, however, incapable of understanding what they feel. With a lyricism lost in the Brazilian backlands, the heroes of André Laurentino’s debut novel are comic and tragic. And lose themselves in the twists of the plot, told in a speedy rhythm, combining tenderness and humor. The passion of Amâncio Amaro reveals an original writer and a compelling story teller.


Maria da Imaculada Conceição, Culadinha, was the ugliest girl in the village. She would have been beautiful, the most beautiful of them all, if it weren’t for the fact that she had her left eye where the right one should be, and vice versa. A quirk that completely ruled out any possibility of beauty. Otherwise, she had the right build, and long, well-proportioned bones which almost gave her a dancing gait as she walked. But since nobody could judge the tiny mismatch of her big eyes, Culadinha was the homeliest to everyone, except to herself, who could only see herself in the fragment of mirror, which, as it switched left and right, ended up correcting nature’s slip and giving her eyes their proper place. And, along with it, the tan beauty she didn’t possess. Culadinha was perfect in the mirror, but sufferable for life as a whole, which sometimes made her wish she had been born on the other side of the glass. And she would spend her days in hiding, envying the charm of her own reflection.

She had known the truth ever since she found the little piece of mirror. It was during childhood, as she was playing near the street where the maracatu revelers marched by on Sunday during Carnival. She was there to spy on the parade. As soon as the men danced by with their backs turned to her, she chased after them to hurl stones and insults. She didn’t do it out of anger; she even liked their colorful warrior robes and enjoyed the rusty rattle of their bells. She threw stones for the sheer fun of it. And it was when she stooped down to pick up another rock, one of the biggest and pointiest ones, that she found a beautiful face lying in the sand. Culadinha stopped short. A hot thrill raced from the center of her body to the ends of her limbs, as if the sun had risen in all her veins. She stared at the curious girl looking back at her from the ground. She came closer. She touched the glass and was startled — the girl was cold, as if made of water. The bit of mirror had fallen from the elaborate costume of a maracatu chieftain. She gazed at the Carnival banner as the men marched proudly on, far out of reach of her stones. She looked back at the fragment of a girl on the ground. As the maracatu dancers clanged and clashed in the distance like merry toy oxen, Culadinha realized it for the first time: she was beautiful. All the teasing and demeaning, to which she had never resigned herself, never made any sense. She was beautiful. The proof was right there, in the little square of decorate glass, in the girl crying in her hands.

The discovery took her by surprise.

She began responding to the taunts with greater anger, hurling the stones harder against the boys’ heads, breaking more clay dolls, and taking more pleasure in stealing the bones they used for their make-believe cattle. She took weeping refuge in the backyard straw-walled latrine. While others pestered her because of her ugliness, the girl in the mirror cursed her with her own grace. In the pestilent stench of the lean-to outhouse, she rued and loathed not being like she was. In return, she watched the beautiful reversed girl in the mirror yield in identical redoubled sorrow. She felt they were both shackled to themselves, captive in prisons, sharing the same gestures of a common misery. Until the warm breath of her crying fogged the mirror and Culadinha saw herself alone once again, locked up in the palm-leaf outhouse, before a mute lusterless looking glass.

As puberty began and her breasts budded, Culadinha’s seclusion was a mystery to her mother. For lack of a better explanation, the woman assumed that the girl was locking herself up to wait for her first period:
— She even takes along a little mirror — she thought.
As she witnessed how much the delay was bothering the girl, the mother decided she herself would spy on her daughter’s period. Each time she did the laundry, she searched her daughter’s clothes for the crimson stain that would mark the end of her fetid cloister. Since the stain refused to come, the woman took to wanting what she couldn’t — to speed up time. Now, the shouts from inside the outhouse were joined by her shouts from outside: each woman longing for the impossible. The mother decided that Culadinha’s quirkiness was postponing her period.
— Blood won’t flow in a befuddled mind.
She had to clear up her daughter’s senses. For days she devised a plan to entice Culadinha out of the outhouse by insisting that she participate immediately in the local festivities. She claimed the contact with friendly healthy people would get her on the track where she’d never been. The plan was a battle against the backed-up blood of the girl, who learned of her mother’s scheming through a beating from her father. A good thrashing, thought the woman, was sure to melt her last resistance, in addition to getting her blood flowing and setting the stage for her period to come.

Culadinha tried to resist the thrashing by struggling wildly from the moment they knocked down the straw door until the last five-fingered welt swelled up on her back. She had no time to cry. While she panted as best she could and they maneuvered her into a starched, cold-hemmed blue dress, she listened to the obligations she was supposed to meet at the long-awaited Corn Queen Festival. It was all too fast for her. Information was coming from every which way: the pain from the blows, the joy of the new dress, the taking part in the festival. In what seemed less than a minute, she emerged from the secluded little room into a Sunday dress burning against her hot skin, red with blood, fright and pain.

About the author

For ten years, André Laurentino (b. 1972, Olinda, Brazil), was an award-winning art director at an advertising agency. In 2003, at the hight of his career, he quit his job to dedicate himself to the written word. Since then he has worked as a scriptwriter for TV, copywriter and columnist for the newspaper O Estado de São Paulo. He participated in FLIP’s literary workshop in 2004, during which he worked on his critically well received first novel, A Paixão de Amâncio Amaro (2005). He was a speaker at FLIP in 2006. He is the executive creative director at TBWA\London.