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.

The 356th greatest fiction book of all time

This book is on the following lists:

  1. - 61st on In Which These Are the 100 Greatest Novels (
  2. - Top 100 Works in World Literature (Norwegian Book Clubs, with the Norwegian Nobel Institute)
  3. - 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (The Book)

Buy This Book

Name Binding Sales Rank Lowest New Lowest Used Published
Gran Serton: Veredas / The Devil to Pay in the Backlands: 5530 (El Libro De Bolsillo / The Pocket Book) (Spanish Edition) Paperback 14223176 $155.98 $145.16 2000