Last night at the University of Zurich, Julianna Barbassa, a Brazilian American journalist and writer newly based in Switzerland, presented her recently published book "Dancing with the Devil in the City of God". The work offers a uniquely readable and personal account of how the lives of many residents of Rio de Janeiro changed very quickly in the surprisingly explosive lead up to the 2014 World Cup. Dealing in particular with the increasing marginalization of the already disenfranchised urban poor, it provides outsiders glimpses into worlds that would otherwise remain invisible to most.
A key advantage of Barbassa's account is its timeliness. Published in the aftermath of the World Cup but in advance of the 2016 Olympics in Rio, it tackles themes that remain critically relevant today, thereby seizing a rare chance to engage a wide audience readers that otherwise may not have picked it up.
Barbassa's intercultural positioning paired with her journalistic experience at the Associated Press enable her to weave fact-based narratives into a rich tapestry infused with her deep understanding of Brazilian history, current affairs, and the international environment with which they interface. Rarely does such complexity have the chance to appeal to such a broad readership.