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Vidas Secas

Barren Lives
Author Graciliano Ramos
Original title Vidas Sêcas
Country Brazil
Language Portuguese
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)

Vidas Secas (Pre-Reform spelling: Vidas Sêcas, literally "Dry Lives"; translated into English as Barren Lives) is a novel by twentieth-century Brazilian writer Graciliano Ramos, written in 1938. It tells the cyclical story of a family of five: Fabiano, the father; Sinhá Vitória, the mother; two sons (just called boys) and their dog called Baleia (whale in Portuguese) in the poverty stricken and arid Brazilian northeast. One of the distinguishing characteristics of the book is that it is written in said cyclical manner, making it possible to read the first chapter as a continuation of the last chapter, reflecting the cycle of poverty and desolation in the Sertão. Another distinguishing characteristic is that the dog Baleia is considered the most sensible and human character.

It is often considered amongst the most important works in Brazilian literature, with a "dry", concise style of writing.

Vidas Secas was adapted into a highly praised film by Nelson Pereira dos Santos, in 1963, and would become a landmark for the Cinema Novo movement.



  • Michael H. Glantz; Currents of Change : El Niño's Impact on Climate and Society; published 1996 by Cambridge University Press.
  • Michael H. Glantz (editor); Drought Follows The Plow: Cultivating Marginal Areas; published 1994 by Cambridge University Press.
  • Fagan, Brian; Floods, Famines, and Emperors: El Niño and the Fate of Civilizations; published 2000 by Basic Books.
  • Nicholas G. Arons; Waiting for Rain: The Politics and Poetry of Drought in Northeast Brazil; published 2004 by University of Arizona Press.
  • Euclides da Cunha, Rebellion in the Backlands


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