In This Review

The Collector of Leftover Souls: Field Notes on Brazil’s Everyday Insurrections
The Collector of Leftover Souls: Field Notes on Brazil’s Everyday Insurrections
By Eliane Brum. Translated by Diane Grosklaus Whitty
Graywolf Press, 2019, 232 pp
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Brum, an investigative journalist, explores the lives of Brazilians surviving on the margins of society in this collection of vignettes. Society may be rigged against them, but Brum’s subjects draw on deep wells of strength and perseverance; many find joy in the struggle itself, in their “everyday insurrections.” The more moving stories include a factory worker ailing from asbestos poisoning who stubbornly refuses to die until the offending corporation offers his family acceptable monetary compensation for his death, a woman with serious disabilities who heroically overcomes a series of social barriers, and an elderly man who collects garbage (“leftover souls”) with the artistic sensibility of a Marcel Duchamp. By calling attention to deep social injustices in Brazil, Brum may be seeking to mobilize public opinion behind corrective policies. But readers will be forgiven for concluding that the immense human suffering that Brum sketches so powerfully will persist from generation to generation, with no relief in sight.