Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2009
As a child Ludo was plucked out of the shantytown where he was born and transported to a world of languid, cosseted luxury. Now twenty-seven, he works high above the sprawling metropolis of São Paulo for a vacuous ‘communications company’. But this is not his world, and this is not a simple rags-to-riches story: Ludo’s destiny moves him around like a chess piece, showing his extremities of opulent excess and abject poverty, taking him to the brink of madness and brutality.
'This novel rides in the same car with the greats of Latin American literature: funny and heartbreaking and devious. Scudamore, like Mario Vargas Llosa, can write about sex and food and love and then throw politics down the middle . . . Heliopolis is pitch-perfect.' Willy Vlautin
'Merits just about every hackneyed plaudit one can hurl at it.' Washington Post
'There’s so much... brilliantly at work in James Scudamore’s Heliopolis that it seems arbitrary to praise one element over another.' Irish Times
'Clever, funny and brilliantly inventive.' The Times
'A triumph. São Paulo seethes through the text - part billion-footed beast, part intimate acquaintance, Scudamore’s Brazilian metropolis is a new and forceful way to write of ferroconcrete and favelas.' New Statesman
'A kinetic novel, spiced with stunning imagery.' Financial Times
'This novel merits the epithet Dickensian in a number of ways: in its generous anger at injustice and inequality, its attention to the lives of the poor, and its relish for food…read it for the power of the writing, the descriptions that fizz off the page, and the lust for life.' Independent on Sunday
'Scudamore has the superb novelist’s gift for giving vivid, sympathetic life to even second string characters, as well as his main ones; he also has the extraordinary power of summoning an entire brooding, smoggy city to life. Most of all, though, he has the ability to take on the heaviest of themes with the lightest and most compelling of touches, and leave you with an appetite for more.' Daily Telegraph
'The writing is exemplary: you feel the hand of a natural at work, one whose command of tone is strong, and who has an instinctive feel for handling a story.' Guardian
'Fast-paced with ingenious and constant twists… brilliantly sharp… an unsettling and magically compelling read.' Daily Mail
'Offers a convincing panorama of São Paulo society, from the very top of this "dazzling, infinite city" to the very bottom.' Independent
'Scudamore’s world pulsates with life... Vivid, uncomfortable reading.' Spectator
'Written in beautiful, clear prose, at ease equally with the flittering, dangerous games of the socialites and with the pungent depths of the slums... fascinating.' Literary Review