Federicoand LourenÃ§o are brothers. Their father is black, a famed forensic pathologistfor the police; their mother is white. Federico – distant, angry, analytical -has light skin, which means he’s always been able to avoid the worst of theracism that Brazilian culture has to offer. He can ‘pass’ as white, and yet,because of this, he has devoted his life to racial justice. LourenÃ§o, on theother hand, is dark-skinned, easy-going, and well-liked in the brothers’hometown of Porto Alegre – and has become a father himself. AsFederico’s fiftieth birthday looms, he joins a governmental committee in thecapital. It is tasked with quelling the increasingly violent student protestsrocking Brazil by overseeing the design of a software program that willadjudicate the degree to which each university applicant is sufficiently blackto warrant admittance under new affirmative-action quotas. Before he can cometo grips with his feelings about this initiative, not to mention a buddingromance with one of his committee colleagues, Federico is called home: hisniece has just been arrested at a protest carrying a concealed gun. And notjust any gun. A stolen police service revolver that Federico and LourenÃ§o hidfor a friend decades before. A gun used in a killing. Paulo Scotthere probes the old wounds of race in Brazil, and in particular the loss of ablack identity independent from the history of slavery. Exploratory rather thandidactic, a story of crime, street-life and regret as much as a satirical novelof ideas, Phenotypes is a seething masterpiece of rage andreconciliation.
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