Original title: Vidas Provisórias
Barbara Costa, an illegal immigrant in New York, speaking almost no English, works as a cleaning person and manicurist for all kinds of clients, including Nadja, a madam to elegant call girls that are housewives to unsuspecting husbands in the suburbs. Barbara is conformed to her meek existence until inadvertently falling in love with Silvio, a handsome gay shop owner and former male prostitute. Through him Barbara discovers art, poetry, such simple pleasures as a picnic in Central Park or a walk through the Metropolitan Museum, unaware that Silvio has AIDS and not much time to live.
Exiled in Sweden, torture victim Paulo Antunes takes all sorts of jobs to make ends meet, always pessimistic about democracy in his native Brazil and about his own future. His life on the run changes when he meets Anna Lundt in an afternoon of intense lovemaking. They move in together and have a baby. Paulo returns to his sociology studies and believes his luck has changed, but one night he comes home from work to find the man who was his torturer threatening his wife and son, demanding that Paulo become a mole for the Brazilian military dictatorship among the other refugees, in exchange for the safety of his new family.
Barbara and Paulo’s story, set in different countries and decades, interspersed with intriguing ingenuity, is a moving saga of loss and despair, hope and courage, in face of a hostile world.
- First published by Intrínseca (Brazil) in 2013, republished by Globo Livros (Brazil) in 2021
- English sample available