Blood-Drenched Beard

Daniel Galera's U.S. debut features a nameless, Brazilian physical education teacher who suffers from prosopagnosia, a rare disorder also known as face blindness. He cannot recognize or remember faces, even his own. He must identify people by other means and sees the world in a slightly different way than most. Those close to him understand his disability, but when he interacts with others who are unaware, it can create awkward, even potentially volatile, situations.

After his father commits suicide, the protagonist decides he needs a change of scenery and moves to a small apartment on the water in the seaside town of Garopaba, where his grandfather Gaudério lived--and died under mysterious circumstances. His subtle investigation into his grandfather's life doesn't sit well with the locals, who react suspiciously at the mere mention of Gaudério's name. The narrator's prosopagnosia only adds to their distrust, and it isn't long before they treat him like an outcast. The townspeople's growing hostility doesn't deter him, although his digging may result in him hollowing out his own grave.

Galera, a swimmer himself, makes strong use of his protagonist's affinity for water, depicting the unpredictability and danger but also illustrating the beauty, and the cleansing and healing nature, of the sea. Evocative use of the weather and the ocean enhance suspense as the protagonist searches for answers about his family and, ultimately, his own personal identity.

Atmospheric, multilayered and poetic, Blood-Drenched Beard makes a splash, and the ripples will surely affect all they touch. --Jen Forbus of Jen's Book Thoughts

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