book cover of Tropicalia
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In the heady days before a New Year’s Eve party on the bustling sands of Brazil’s Copacabana Beach, a family reckons with a matriarch’s long-awaited return, causing old secrets to come to light in this infectiously vibrant debut that explores the heartbreak and hope of what it means to be from two homes, two peoples, and two worlds.

Daniel Cunha has a lot on his mind.

He got dumped by his pregnant girlfriend, his grandfather just dropped dead, and on the anniversary of the raid that doomed his drug-dealing aunt and uncle, his mother makes her unwanted return, years after she fled to marry another American fool like his father.

Misfortune, however, is a Cunha family affair, and no generation is spared. Not Daniel’s grandfather João—poor João—born to a prostitute and forced to raise his siblings while still a child himself. Not João’s wife, Marta, branded as a bruxa, reviled by her mother, and dragged from her Ilha paradise by her scheming daughter, Maria. And certainly not Maria, so envious of her younger sister’s beauty and benevolence that she took her vicious revenge and fled to the States, abandoning her children: Daniel and Lucia, both tainted now by their half-Americanness and their mother’s greedy absence.

There’s poison in the Cunha blood. They are a family cursed, condemned to the pain of deprivation, betrayal, violence, and, worst of all, love. But now Maria has returned to grieve her father and finally make peace with Daniel and Lucia, or so she says. As New Year’s Eve nears, the Cunha family hurtles toward an irrevocable breaking point: a fire, a knife, and a death on the sands of Copacabana Beach.

Amid the cacophony of Rio’s tumult—rampant poverty, political unrest, the ever-present threat of violence—a fierce chorus of voices rises above the din to ask whether we can ever truly repair the damage we do to those we love.

Genre: Literary Fiction

Praise for this book

"A formally mesmerizing, ventriloquial, intergenerational epic about the difficulties of being born into a family. Harold's prose moves muscular and propulsive, somehow managing to stay radiating light and grace no matter how cruel the subject matter." - Sean Thor Conroe

"Tropicalia is a riotous search for catharsis and understanding. Harold captures the rage born out of family secrets and doesn't pull any punches. A powerful debut." - Zoraida Córdova

"A bacchanal of familial entanglements, as beautiful as it is brutal. This is a story of what happens when love is the midwife of destruction, trauma the cousin of redemption, and fate, the absentee mother of us all. I loved this book in all its parts, but as a whole, it left me awestruck." - Jamie Ford

"One of the most marvelous books I've read in years...Intense, tender, and wise, and it reminds us that for each way that a family is split, it is also doubled; and that for each fury, there's a resplendent underside of love." - Rivka Galchen

"With a tremendously powerful voice and a commanding hand, Harold Roger's Tropicalia shoots us out of a cannon from page one...With riveting and fearless prose and moments of tension so thick they make your spine tingle, Troplicalia weaves us in and out of the Cunha family's past and one inextricably linked week in their present that will force the siblings to decide if it's possible to escape fate and what it means to define ourselves on our own terms. This book and the humanity, humor and, yes, even rage, these characters made me feel, will stay with me for a long time." - Xochitl Gonzalez

"A wild and moving saga, Tropicalia bounds across generations and continents at a breakneck pace. With vivacious prose and an unflinching eye, Harold immerses readers in the crueA wild and moving saga, Tropicalia bounds across generations and continents at a breakneck pace. With vivacious prose and an unflinching eye, Harold immerses readers in the cruel beauties of Rio de Janeiro and the cyclical traumas of a family who is learning to heal and forgive like any other, yet each in their own broken but hopeful way. Tropicalia reminds us that forgiveness is possible but has to be earned - and before it's too late." - Jakob Guanzon

"In these vibrant and hypnotizing pages, Harold has given us so much pain, grace, and love that when I finished reading I called my parents just to hear their voices." - Michael Zapata

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