The Life and Death of a Minke Whale in the Amazon


The Life and Death of a Minke Whale in the Amazon

Dispatches from the Brazilian Rainforest

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As the Amazon burns, Fábio Zuker shares stories of resistance, self-determination, and kinship with the land.  

In 2007, a seven-ton minke whale was found stranded on the banks of the Tapajós River, hundreds of miles into the Amazon rainforest. For days, environmentalists, journalists, and locals followed the lost whale, hoping to guide her back to the ocean, but ultimately proved unable to save her. Ten years later, journalist Fábio Zuker travels to the state of Pará, to the town known as “the place where the whale appeared,” which developers are now eyeing for mining, timber, and soybean cultivation.

In these essays, Zuker shares intimate stories of life in the rainforest and its surrounding cities during an age of raging wildfires, mass migration, populist politics, and increasing deforestation. A group of Venezuelan migrants wait at a bus station in Manaus, looking for someplace more stable than home, and an elder in Alter do Chão becomes the first Indigenous person in Brazil to die from COVID-19 after years of fighting for the rights and recognition of the Borari people.  

The subjects Zuker interviews are often torn between ties with their ancestral territories and the push toward capitalist gains; The Life and Death of a Minke Whale in the Amazon captures the friction between their worlds and the resilience of movements for autonomy, self-definition, and respect for the land that nourishes us. 

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8.5 × 5.5 × 1.5 in
1.3 lb

Fábio Zuker is a writer and journalist. He holds a master’s degree from the School for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences in Paris and is a PhD candidate in Social Anthropology at the University of São Paulo. He has also been three times a Pulitzer Center grantee.


Ezra E. Fitz is the translator of The Life and Death of a Minke Whale in the Amazon. He has worked with Grammy-winning musician Juanes, Emmy-winning journalist Jorge Ramos, and the king of soccer himself, Pelé.

Praise and Prizes

Blog Post

Milkweed Staff – 08/09/2021

Life_and_Death_pb_3D.png by: Fábio Zuker ENGLISH A whale in the amazon forest: a cover image story “Space and time move in...