Saga of Brutes draws together three confronting and darkly comic stories: “Between Dog Fights and Hog Slaughter,” “The Dirty Work of Others,” and “carbo animalis,” published in one volume for the first time. Ana Paula Maia’s no-holds barred narrative pulls few punches, describing a shocking reality of the lives of the invisible workingmen who, like Atlas, are forced to carry society’s burdens. These heroes of vile circumstance—coal miners, firemen, garbage collectors, crematorium workers—are the soot-covered supermen who risk their lives performing difficult and dangerous work for others. But in the end, they, too, amount to nothing but carbo animalis—notwithstanding the impure relation of coal to diamonds. Despite their straightforwardness, Ana Paula Maia’s stories are filled with great insight and compassion for the lives of the men who live on the edge of a society built with their own sweat.