Heliopolis, By James Scudamore

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The Independent Culture

Twenty-seven-year-old Ludo, who was born Ludwig Aparecido dos Santos, works for a communications company high above the city of Sao Paulo. Real communication, though, is more mysterious and complex than any corporation can master, especially communication across the gulf between rich and poor that exists in such a place.

Ludo was born in a shanty town but was removed into a world of luxury: his adoptive father is a chief executive in commerce, whose wife rescued Ludo from a probable future as a foot soldier to a drug gang.

The city is a character in this novel. It is a "stronghold to be stormed; a glaring citadel of opportunity, with swarms coming from all sides to hurl themselves at its ramparts, prepared to end up dead on the walls if they fail". The heights and depths of the city pattern the narrative: Ludo's adoptive sister Melissa lives in the clouds; her father in a fortress; Ludo, however, tries to remain more down to earth. James Scudamore shows the force of hunger on a human being and how much beauty can be born from "raw determination".