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Brazilian Profile: Jorge Amado Posted by on May 21, 2008 in Brazilian Profile

Jorge Amado is one of Brazil’s most famous and beloved novelists. Born in 1912 on a cocoa plantation in the state of Bahia, he grew up in the coastal town of Ilhéus, where he set many of his novels. He went to high school in Salvador and begin his career in writing. He published his first novel at the age of 18, and married and had a daughter a year later.

Just when his literary career was taking off, Jorge was exiled due to his left-wing tendencies during the Vargas era. He lived in Argentina and Uruguay, and when he returned to Brazil he was elected to the National Constituent Assembly as a representative of the Communist Party. He divorced his wife and was remarried to author Zélia Gattai. They had a son, but Jorge was soon exiled yet again, this time to France and Czechoslovakia.

He returned again to Brazil in 1955, and dedicated his time to writing. He published his most famous novel, Gabriela, Cravo e Canela, in 1958. Though it would become a huge success, his depictions of the women and the scandals they were involved in resulted in threats against Jorge. He couldn’t visit his hometown, where the book is set, for several years.

Jorge’s books were translated into 49 languages in 55 countries, and his novels were adapted as TV shows, movies, plays, and even samba schools. Jorge died in 2001, and his wife died last week, in May 2008.

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