Feast Days by Ian MacKenzie review – the privilege of Americans abroad

A banker’s wife searches for her place in Brazil in this devastatingly truthful take on class, race, marriage and politics

Ian MacKenzie writes about cities with the same verve and vigour as Salman Rushdie and Zadie Smith. Reading his books, it does not seem that he loves cities – rather, that he is compelled by them: their dirtiness, their contrasts, their hidden edges. 

Feast Days, his second novel, is set in São Paulo and narrated by Emma, an American whose husband has moved there to make his fortune in banking. She is uncertain what to do. She does not need a job but is restless, finding herself discontented with meeting wives of her husband’s colleagues for drinks or going to overblown children’s parties. She volunteers at a church that is working to help the large number of refugees who have arrived in the country and becomes caught up in the political ...

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The book I am currently reading
I’ve just finished the haunting How Saints Die by Carmen Marcus, and I’m about to dive into The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner.

The book that changed my life
I read Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow by Peter Høeg at that age when books can feel so momentous. Until about four years ago, every time I saw it in a charity shop I would buy it.

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