The Devil to Pay in the Backlands by Joao Guimaraes Rosa
Grande Sertão: Veredas (Portuguese for Big Backcountry: Tracks, English translation: The Devil to Pay in the Backlands) is an influential novel published in 1956 by the Brazilian writer João Guimarães Rosa. The original title refers to the veredas - small paths originated by cattle - that criss-cross the Sertão-region in Northeast Brazil, as a labyrinthine net where an outsider can easily get lost, and where there is not "one way" to a certain place, since all paths interconnect in such a way that any road can lead anywhere. The English title refers to a later episode in the book involving an attempt to make a deal with the devil. Most of the book's spirit is however lost in translation, as the Portuguese original is written in a register that is both archaic and colloquial, using almost a grammar of its own, making it one of the most difficult books to translate (because quite a few translators will not even be able to read it). The combination of its size, linguistic oddness and polemic themes (like a homoerotic relationship) caused a shock when it was published, but now it is universally acclaimed and is considered one of the most important novels of South American literature.