Original title: Cafeina
In the late 19th century, Paris became the destination of choice for a curious mix of Brazilian asylum seekers. The Royal family, chased out of Brazil after the 1889 Republican coup d’état, led the group, followed by people displaced by the new Republican regime. Simultaneously, France welcomed the arrival of a handful of businessmen who fled the catastrophic consequences of the first financial crisis of the newly proclaimed Republic of the United States of Brazil.
This irreconcilable refugee community at the height of the Parisian Belle Époque sets the scene for Maurício Torres Assumpção’s debut novel that tells the story of two main characters. The first Sebastiao Constantino do Rosario, known as Tino, is a young black man, the son of a French priest and a Brazilian slave, who flees to France after being accused of a crime he did not commit. His antagonist, Baron Antônio Lopes de Carvalho, moves to Paris when the new Republican government accuses him of financial fraud following the burst of the Brazilian stock market buble, leaving thousands of small investors penniless.
An irony of fate will lead these two contrasting characters to cross paths in Paris, where through a chain of casual events, the destiny of the most powerful will be dependent upon the most vulnerable. Freely inspired by the true story of a 19th -century Brazilian coffee baron, Caffeine follows the construction of the coffee brewery built by the baron Antônio Lopes de Carvalho on the outskirts of Paris, an alternative investment after the liquidation of his spurious businesses in Brazil. Meanwhile, Tino tries to make ends meet by playing the violin in the infamous Rat Mort (Dead Rat) restaurant, where Henri Toulouse-Lautrec sketches his favorite prostitutes. When Tino finds a job at Gustave Eiffel’s workshop erecting the tallest tower in the world, his life will undergo dramatic change under the influence of his anarchist colleagues. Tino’s involvement in a bombing plot leads him to death row, a sentence that will have a direct impact on Baron Antônio Lopes de Carvalho’s future.
- English sample available