Early morning, March 31, 1970, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil: a famous, wealthy young artist is having a birthday party. Across town, a train full of starving, drought-stricken migrant workers gets turned away at Plaza Station, and a riot ignites. From these two seemingly unrelated events, Ivan Ângelo’s remarkable novel connects and implicates the lives of a complex of characters, spanning three decades of tumultuous social and political history in twentieth-century Brazil. But with the central event – the celebration – missing, the reader is forced into the roles of historian and detective, and has to reconstruct the story from scraps of comedy, falsehood, eeriness, and tragedy.
Ivan Ângelo (born 1936) is a novelist and journalist from Minas Gerais, Brazil who has, among his other work, edited the São Paulo newspaper Jornal da Tarde, written a column for the magazine Veja, and lectured at Yale. The Celebration won the 1975 Prêmio Jabuti, one of Brazil’s best-known literary prizes.