Brazil’s beloved novelist Jorge Amado, whose bestselling novels garnered both political controversy and critical praise as well as depiction on film and TV, died of heart and lung failure Monday Aug. 6 at the Alianca Hospital in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil.
His comic novels “Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon” and “Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands” became Brazilian blockbuster films starring Sonia Braga and hit television series. The latter 1977 film became Brazil’s biggest box office hit in the United States.
Born on a cocoa plantation in the northeastern state of Bahia, Amado published his first novel in 1932 at age 19. During the next two decades, his communist convictions kept him in and out of jail and exile during the reign of right-wing President Getulio Vargas, who once ordered 1,700 prints of Amado’s first six novels burned in the main plaza of Salvador.
A Communist member of the Brazilian Congress in 1945 and recipient of the 1951 Stalin Peace Prize, his views tempered by the mid-1950s and he focused more on his writing, which became more humorous and organic.
Admired as an advocate of the down-and-out and creator of memorable female protagonists in a culture dominated by machismo, Amado wrote 32 books, which sold millions worldwide and were translated into 48 languages.
He is survived by his wife of more than 50 years, Zelia Gettai, who is also a bestselling author; a son; and a daughter.