Jorge Amado (uh-MAH-doo) was born on a cacao farm in the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia. When Amado was a year old, his father was wounded in a murder attempt. A year later, a flood devastated the family farm and the Amados were forced to move to the town of Ilhéus. The family recovered from its financial losses and soon purchased a new farm, as well as a second home in Ilhéus. At age ten, Amado entered boarding school, where he was introduced to literature. His father denied his request to transfer to another boarding school, and Amado left school and wandered through Bahia before making his way to his paternal grandfather’s home. Following a stay at another boarding school, where he immersed himself in literature, Amado worked, at age fifteen, as a reporter. He had already begun writing fiction. He joined a writers’ group. His first novel, O país do carnaval (the land of carnival), was published in 1931, when Amado was nineteen.
Amado entered law school in 1931, and though he would eventually earn his degree, he was more interested in writing and things literary. Following the publication of his second and third short novels, Amado’s first full-length novel, Jubiabá (English translation, 1984), appeared in 1935. It was an immediate success. Two other novels, including the award-winning Mar morto (1936; Sea of Death, 1984), followed quickly.
Amado was becoming known for the leftist nature of his novels and was imprisoned briefly by the Getúlio Vargas regime in 1936. Afterward, he embarked on a trip that took him all over Latin America and North America and during which he had contact with numerous writers, artists, and social activists. He returned to Brazil the following year, only to be arrested once again and to see his books banned and burned publicly. Released soon thereafter, Amado remained in Brazil until 1941, when, as a result of the oppressive nature of the Vargas...
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