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Grande Sertão by João Guimarães Rosa

The "sertão" of the title designates the outback, the backlands, the bush. In the book it is the hinterland which is east-central Brazil ("veredas" are the palm-lined streams that bubble up from the wetter part of this region); more generally it is a mythic land where neither "king nor law" ("sem rei nem lei") curtail liberty. It is the territory of the "jagunços": mounted mercenaries in the pay of landowners or politicians, or just plain bandits, that roamed the sertão in the decades before and after the beginning of the last century.