Pedro and Marques Take Stock: A Picaresque Novel

Astra House. Nov. 2023. 304p. ISBN 9781662601231. $25. F
In the bustling slums of Porto Alegre, grocery store stock clerks Pedro and Marques dream of escaping from their dead-end jobs to enjoy a better life by becoming wealthy. They hit on the idea of filling the void of marijuana dealers in their neighborhood by establishing their own weed selling business. The first part of the novel satirizes capitalistic get rich quick schemes as they and their buddies develop their enterprise with unimagined success and revel in the fruits of their lucrative venture. But then things turn nasty; they engage in a gun battle with a rival gang ending in three deaths and imprisonment for Pedro. Translator Sanches does a capable job of transferring Brazilian slang into the text, but at times the story languishes in detail overkill.
VERDICT In his first work translated into English (with an intentional pun in the title not in the Portuguese version) Falero tries to instill sympathy into his characters, but readers may find the negative stigma attached to drug dealers overwhelms such efforts. The novel generally reads quickly, but the violent turnabout and unsavory atmosphere ultimately leave readers shortchanged.
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