Jorge Amado is one of Brazil’s great writers. (It’s not just Machado de Assis – and I’ll hit you if you start talking about Paulo Coelho.)
I’m in the midst of his 1943 novel about rural poverty in Brazil’s northeast, As Terras do Sem-Fim. As one character, Antônio Vítor, decides whether to migrate to the northeast or not, he observes those who have gone before:
Almost all the men went, and they rarely returned. But those that did return – and they always returned for just a quick visit – were unrecognizable after years of absence. They came wealthy, with rings on their fingers, gold watches, pearls and ties. And they threw their money away, with expensive presents for relatives, donations for churches and for patron saints, and hosting end-of-year celebrations. “He got rich” was all that that was heard around town. (p20, my own bad translation from the Portuguese)
Antônio, what about the guys that didn’t come back?