by Darcy Ribeiro. Vintage,$7.95. Mr. Ribeiro is a Brazilian anthropologist who has also served as minister of education and culture under a progressive government, has lived in exile after a military coup d’état, and is currently lieutenant governor of Rio de Janeiro. All these experiences, and particularly his long study of native Brazilian tribes, contribute to his novel. The tale concerns, ostensibly, the discovery of the nude body of a white woman on the outskirts of a settlement of jungle Indians. Dead or alive, she had no business to be there, and an official inquiry is languidly set in motion. The real subject of the novel, however, is not the investigation
but the collision between modern Brazil and the antique forest. The author covers the nature of Indian thought and culture, the oppressive and irresponsible policies of the government in dealing with Indians, the greed and dishonesty of officials, and the hopeless position of aborigines confronted by an alien and incomprehensible power. Mr. Ribeiro transmutes all these themes into believable characters and intriguing events, turning social criticism into a truly fine work of fiction.