When José Francisco Verguerio Silva arrives at LAX, fleeing the brutal dictatorship in his native Brazil, he is determined to become Americanized at all costs. He lands a job driving a Hollywood tour bus and posing as Ricky Ricardo. He marries a blonde waitress and becomes the father of twins. Yet happiness remains elusive for Joe as he is haunted by flashbacks of prison torture. And soon a torrid affair with Rosea Socorro Katz, the crazed daughter of Hollywood’s Brazilian star Carmen Socorro, proves to be even more dangerous than the life he has fled.
Rosea spent her childhood watching her mother unravel as the celebrity system toyed with and eventually destroyed her career. Carmen had always claimed to be descended from Amazons, the woman warriors of legend, but she was tamed by Hollywood. Not Rosea. She has just finished serving jail time for setting fire to the home of her ex-husband—in an attempt to destroy his collection of Brazilian artifacts—and sets out to salvage her life.
Along the way, she manages to tear down the lives of everyone she meets. The Brazil of the imagination is shattered in this novel of two tortured souls wrestling with the myths of movies, politics, and the American Dream. Laced with fantastic tales of bird-boys and cannibal rituals, it spins a compelling story of desperation as it reminds us that American freedom and the myth of unbridled opportunity can also consume and destroy.
"Kathleen de Azevedo's debut novel is both a realistic portrayal of the difficulties immigrants have in adapting to a new country and a Hollywood fantasy about the American dream." —Women's Review of Books
"How can I not love an Amazonian ex-con fighting the image of her mother, famous Brazilian star Carmen Socorro? Rosea Socorro Katz and Joe Silva are the hapless protagonists of this novel, and personify, in their restless rootlessness, our future. While never looking back, de Azevedo has given us a heart full of saudade."
"Samba Dreamers is a brilliant debut. It's engrossing in its post-apocalytic, self-referential reverie of American iconography and culture. Makes all the right fun and becomes, in the end, a romp of a good read. Brazil is the corruptible (and corrupting) landscape that is larger than life, that is the great backdrop to this wonderful fiction. I couldn't put this one down." —Virgil Suárez