Gringa Reads

Prêmio São Paulo – 2016 Finalists Announced

AwardsZoe PerryComment

Last week the list of finalists for the 2016 Prêmio São Paulo was announced, and boy is it a good one! Out of 175 total entries – roughly 10% fewer than last year – across three categories, this year's crop of twenty finalists represent ten Brazilian states, and one non-Brazilian writer is in the running: heavy-weight Mia Couto, from Mozambique. All books were published in 2015.

The Prêmio São Paulo, inspired by the Man Booker, is Brazil's biggest award in terms of prize money, with BRL 200,000 going to the winner of the Best Book category, and BRL 100,000 each for the two debut-author categories: Under 40 and Over 40. I love this prize, because I think it does a great job of promoting new authors of all ages, as well as small, indy publishers.

Once again, I'm not aware of any of these books being translated to English, or any English translations in the works. 

Winners will be announced in October! 


Beatriz Bracher – Anatomia do Paraíso (Editora 34)

João Almino – Enigmas da Primavera (Record)

Julián Fúks – A Resistência (Companhia das Letras)

Marcelo Rubens Paiva – Ainda Estou Aqui (Alfaguara)

Mia Couto – Mulheres de Cinzas – As Areias do Imperador (Companhia das Letras)

Nei Lopes – Rio Negro, 50 (Record)

Noemi Jaffe – Írisz: As Orquídeas (Companhia das Letras)

Paula Fábrio – Um Dia Toparei Comigo (Foz)

Raimundo Carrero – O Senhor Agora Vai Mudar de Corpo (Record)

Santana Filho – A Casa das Marionetes (Reformatório)




Eda Nagayama – Desgarrados (Cosac Naify)

Marcelo Maluf – A Imensidão Íntima dos Carneiros (Reformatório)

Robertson Frizero – Longe das Aldeias (Dublinense – Terceiro Selo)



Alex Sens – O Frágil Toque dos Mutilados (Autêntica)

Isabela Noronha – Resta Um (Companhia das Letras)

Julia Dantas – Ruína y Leveza (Não Editora)

Rafael Gallo – Rebentar (Record)

Sheyla Smanioto – Desesterro (Record)

Tércia Montenegro – Turismo Para Cegos (Companhia das Letras)

Tomas Rosenfeld – Para Não Dizer Que Não Falei de Flora (7 Letras)

Mid-Year News Round-up

NewsZoe PerryComment

If you pay any attention to Brazil at all, it might feel like there's been a steady stream of bad news coming out of the country for awhile now, from Rio's general lack of preparedness for the upcoming Olympic Games, to the economic crisis, impeachment scandals, interim governments, corruption scandals, sexual assaults, environmental catastrophes, and everything in between. The Brazilian literary world is not immune to the bad news, either. Recently, two senior staff members at the Brazilian National Library Foundation (FBN) were let go, including the person in charge of the department that runs their translation support programs. In true Brazilian style, however, whenever I think I hear the death rattle of those all-important programs, I'll get an email reminding me they're still kicking. Recently the FBN announced applications are being accepted for their 2016 residency programs, a great way for translators with a publication contract for a Brazilian work to spend some time in Brazil working on their projects. And their ongoing call for funding applications for translations is STILL open. I cannot guarantee the process will be efficient or headache-free, but my advice to publishers: grab the money while you can! 


August is Women in Translation month, and I've been doing some number-crunching and reviewing and list-making around here, so stay tuned for a few exciting posts to commemorate the occasion. In the meantime, here are some Brazilian lit-related news and links to peruse, particularly if you're sick of reading about the impending doom of the Rio Olympics:

If you haven't heard of it, go check out Glossolalia, PEN America's new print magazine (previously known as Passages): 

Glossolalia advocates for writers with limited access to the global reading community. By publishing works from lesser-translated languages, we connect storytellers to audiences eager for a vivid, mind-expanding look at experience unlike their own. 

Their new issue, Women Writing Brazil, is timed perfectly for Women in Translation month. Packed with poetry, fiction, and non-fiction writing from some of Brazil's best women writers, including Brazil's Nobel nominee, Lygia Fagundes Telles, in addition to a lot of as-yet unknowns to English readers, the issue is available to order on their website (print only). There's some really good stuff in there and this is a great project to support. 

All eyes are on Rio de Janeiro, but if you happened to miss it, July's issue of Words Without Borders was all about Brazil Beyond Rio. Featuring fiction, non-fiction, and poetry by Brazilian writers representing diverse backgrounds and landscapes, as well as perspectives on Brazil from writers from abroad.

I strongly suggest you check out Alison Entrekin's marvelous sample from João Guimarães Rosa's masterpiece, Grande Sertão: Veredas. My translation of The Time Left is in there, a short story by Carlos Henrique Schroeder, whose novel As Fantasias Coletivas I reviewed here.

Also just up over at Words Without Borders, in their Dispatches section, is a brilliant write-up of FLIP 2016 by Eric M.B. Becker. I was bummed I couldn't make it to Paraty this year, but Eric covers all the highlights.

Brazilian Lit, Out and About in the World – Recent(ish) News

Events, Awards, NewsZoe PerryComment

Two upcoming international events featuring Brazilian writers in translation and a possible Brazilian Nobel win?

Lygia Fagundes Telles

Something that had Brazilian social media all aflutter back in February was the announcement that beloved author Lygia Fagundes Telles had been nominated by the União Brasileira de Escritores (Brazilian Writer's Union) for the Nobel Prize. A member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters since 1985 (one of only three female members), she was awarded the prestigious Camões prize (awarded to an author in the Portuguese language for the entirety of their work) in 2005, and has twice won the Jabuti. If she does manage to win (and for various reasons I don't believe she will… this year), she would be the first Brazilian to receive the award.

Though her writing is often labeled more accessible or mainstream than theirs, she was a close friend of both Clarice Lispector and Hilda Hilst. She's published nearly 30 books, but her most famous novel is As Meninas (published in English in 2012 by Dalkey Archive as The Girl in the Photographtr. Margaret Neves). As far as I know that's the only book of hers that's made it into English, but I've heard Dalkey is sitting on the English rights to several others). Here's a great interview with her (no subtitles, unfortunately) that contains some real gems. She's the smart, sassy, classy Paulista grandmother I've always wanted!

Printemps Littéraire Brésilien

In its third year, the "Printemps Littéraire Brésilien" will once again be celebrating contemporary Brazilian literature at the Sorbonne from March 21 to 31. The event brings 30 Brazilian authors, illustrators, poets, filmmakers, cartoonists, playwrights and storytellers to Paris for readings, panel discussions and workshops on children's and YA literature. There will also be parallel events at universities in Leiden, Berlin, and at the Bologna Book Fair.

Here's the complete list of delegates:

Lúcia Hiratsuka, Roger Mello, Roberto Parmeggiani, Jessé Andarilho, Henrique Rodrigues, Marcello Quintanilha, Paula Anacaona, Marcelo D’Salete, Claudia Nina, Lucrécia Zappi, Lúcia Bettencourt, Paloma Vidal, Krishna Monteiro, Miguel Sanches Neto, Mário Araujo, Alexandre Vidal Porto, Godofredo de Oliveira Neto, Paula Fábrio, João Guilhoto, Andrea Nunes, Márcio Benjamin, Ieda de Oliveira, Felipe Franco Munhoz, Maurício Vieira, Flávio Goldmann, Jéferson Assumção, Susana Fuentes, Kátia Gerlach, Eunice Gutman, Mariza Baur, Patrícia Melo, Antonio Salvador, Camila Gonzatto, Caio Yurgel.

PEN World Voices Festival

Alexandre Vidal Porto will be at the 2016 World Voices Festival, where he will be in conversation with Saleem Haddad and Abdellah Taïa in a panel called "The Fictional Other", on Saturday, April 30. The English translation of his book Sergio Y. will be out in May, published by Europa Editions and translated by Alex Ladd.

New Reads for March

New BooksZoe Perry3 Comments

New books for Spring from Companhia das Letras! This list includes a lot of newcomers, and I don't just mean to the publishing world — four out of the five are under 35. 

(counterclockwise from top left):

  • Maracanazo by Arthur Dapieve. A collection of short stories by Dapieve, a music and sports journalist and professor who has also written a couple of novels (one of which was translated to French). The title story was commissioned for the 2015 Paris Salon du Livre, and it was a finalist for the Jules Rimet prize for sports literature.
  • A Resistência (Resistance) by Julián Fuks. I've actually already read this one, but in PDF. It was one of my favorites from last year, so it was great to see how it turned out. This is a very strong, powerful novel.
  • A Realidade Devia Ser Proibida (Reality Should Be Banned) by Maria Clara Drummond, a journalist. This is her second novel.
  • Resta Um (Minus One/One Left) by Isabela Noronha. She received the Curtis Brown Prize for this novel while a student in the MA Creative Writing program at Brunel University London.
  • Gigantes (Giants) by Pedro Henrique Neschling, his first novel.

And, I recently received these two books in the mail, both published by Benvirá, (an imprint of Saraiva), both of which I'm excited about:

Bazar Paraná by Luis S. Krausz. This is the latest novel by the author of Deserto, winner of the Benvirá Prize and one of my favorites from last year. 

Onça Preta (Black Jaguar, or is that a panther?) by Lucrécia Zappi, a journalist, translator and writer. This is her first novel and, interestingly, Zappi wrote it in the MFA program at NYU. It was published in Spanish in 2014 at FIL. Born in Buenos Aires, and having spent her teenage years in Mexico City, she translated the book herself!

Favorite Brazilian Reads in 2015

ListsZoe PerryComment

Brazilians like to say the new year only really starts after Carnaval, right? So here's my slightly tardy list of favorite Brazilian reads from 2015. Same lack of rules applies as last year: not necessarily published in 2015, just read by me in 2015. And, once again, no round numbers.

  • O Grifo de Abdera (The Griffin of Abdera, Companhia das Letras) by Lourenço Mutarelli

I've gushed about Lourenço Mutarelli many a time on this blog. As I've said before, I would read anything he publishes. Thankfully he keeps putting out damn good books, and this totally meta marvel just might be my new favorite. You can read a short extract from my previous favorite, O Cheiro do Ralo, in the August 2013 issue of Words Without Borders.

  • Turismo Para Cegos (Tourism for the Blind, Companhia das Letras) by Tércia Montenegro

A very likeable book about two highly unlikeable characters, told by an unlikely, and unreliable, narrator. It wasn't just me who liked it: it won the 2015 Biblioteca Nacional prize for Best Novel.

  • Operação Impensável (Operation Unthinkable, Intrínseca) by Vanessa Barbara

This book about the demise of a romantic relationship starts out all laughter and sunshine, but is actually heading south well before you've even realized what's going on. It's only in hindsight that you see what just happened. You know, kind of like an actual relationship. I did a sample from this book, available from The Riff Agency.

  • Írisz: As Orquídeas (Irisz: Orchids, Companhia das Letras) by Noemi Jaffe

Who knew you could tell a story of war, ideology and heartache through the growth patterns of orchids? Among other hats, Jaffe is a creative writing teacher, and this novel's meticulous prose is a master class in craft and style. Her previous book What Are the Blind Men Dreaming? is forthcoming from Deep Vellum in Julia Sanches' beautiful translation. 

  • A Resistência (Resistance, Companhia das Letras) by Julián Fuks

Exile, identity, family. Redemption, repetition, resistance. Fuks' slim autobiographical novel packs a powerful emotional punch. His writing is measured and precise, and you're left with that wonderful feeling I'm always a sucker for, that every word has its place. I did a sample translation from this book, available from Companhia das Letras.

Nakasato's spare and beautiful book about a Japanese family in Brazil was one of my favorite discoveries last year. You can read all about this Benvirá prize-winning book in my review here.

  • Deserto (Desert or Deserted, among other options, Benvirá) by Luis Krausz

After reading Nihonjin above, I looked into other titles that had won the (now-defunct?) Benvirá prize and stumbled upon this gem. Krausz's sinuous, polished prose is something to behold. You can read Ana Fletcher's translation of The Clocks from Desterro: memórias em ruínas in the New England Review.

2015 Prize Roundup & New 'Machado de Assis' Issue

Awards, NewsZoe PerryComment

The first ever winners of the new (to us) Oceanos Prize were awarded December 8. Novelist, essayist and critic, Silviano Santiago, took top honors for his novel Mil rosas roubadas (A Thousand Stolen Roses), published by Companhia das Letras. 

Second prize went to Elvira Vigna, for Por escrito (In Writing), also published by Companhia das Letras. You can read an excerpt on the author's own website, translated by David Lehmann. Or, if you can get your hands on a copy of this summer's Wasafiri Brazilian issue, there's a lovely selection, translated by Lucy Greaves. Listen to her read it here

Alberto Mussa, took third prize, with A primeira história do mundo (Record), and Glauco Mattoso, came in fourth with Saccola de feira (NVersos).

The São Paulo prize, one of my favorites, announced the 2015 winners on November 30. Some very cool trivia this year: none of the three winners are from São Paulo. They are all originally from the Brazilian Northeast. 

Estevão Azevedo won best novel of the year for Tempo de espalhar pedras (Time to Cast Away Stones), published by Cosac Naify. You can read a sample, translated by Lucy Greaves, in Issue 6 of Machado de Assis magazine. 

For the debut author prizes, Micheliny Verunschk won in the over 40 category, for her book Nossa Teresa – Vida e morte de uma santa suicida (Patuá), and Débora Ferraz, won in the under 40 category, for her novel Enquanto Deus não está olhando (While God's Not Looking), published by RecordRead a sample, also translated by Lucy Greaves, in the latest issue of Machado de Assis (more on that below). Débora previously won the Sesc Literature Prize in 2014 for the same novel. 

Maria Valéria Rezende: award-winning author, Catholic nun, educator, political activist and total badass.

Maria Valéria Rezende: award-winning author, Catholic nun, educator, political activist and total badass.

2015 Jabuti prize winners were announced on November 19, with the awards ceremony held December 3. In the Novel category, Maria Valéria Rezende (pictured to the right) beat out popular favorites Chico Buarque and Cristovão Tezza, with her book Quarenta dias (Forty Days), published by Alfaguara. She's a fiesty nun, with a fascinating history of political and social activism. I did a little fist pump in the air when I heard.

João Anzanello Carrascoza took second place, with his achingly beautiful book Caderno de um ausente (Cosac Naify) and Evandro Afonso Ferreira earned third place honors, with Os piores dias de minha vida foram todos (Record). You can read the first chapter of Ferreira's newest novel, translated by me, in Pessoa's special Contemporary Brazilian Literature issue.

This was not Rezende's first rodeo; she won a Jabuti twice before, for the children's and young adult categories, in 2009 and 2013. Ferreira won the Jabuti in 2013, with O Mendigo que Sabia de Cor os Adágios de Erasmo de Rotterdam (Record).

For poetry, this year's winner was Alexandre Guarnieri, for Corpo de Festim (Confraria do Vento). Second and third place went to Marco Lucchesi for Clio (Globo) and Manoel Herzog for A Comedia de Alissia Bloom (Patuá). 

Can't wait to get your hands on some new-ish Brazilian writing in English? Brazil's National Library Foundation put out another issue of their Machado de Assis magazine (number 7) just in time for the Guadalajara Book Fair, on December 3. The issue contains work by 21 authors (of a total of 76 submissions), with four in Spanish and 17 in English.

Oh so conveniently for this post, the issue includes a sample from Débora Ferraz's São Paulo prize-winning book While God's Not Looking (tr. by Lucy Greaves). There are also a couple of samples translated by me, from Lust by Fernando Bonassi, and from Marcos Peres' detective novel, Whatever Happened to Juliana Klein?.

You can download other texts (or the entire issue) here, or check out previous issues here

And finally, as an extra sweet bonus, since I don't usually get to talk this much about Brazilian literature in translation, PEN America just released their 2016 translation prize long lists and I was delighted to see two very deserving Brazilian representatives. Rilke Shake by Angélica Freitas and translated by Hilary Kaplan (published by Phoneme Media) is in the running for the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. Go buy this book! Angélica, Hilary and Phoneme are all on my list of people I think are brilliant.

And The Complete Stories by Clarice Lispector, translated by Katrina Dodson (published by New Directions) is up for the PEN Translation Prize for prose. If you're reading this blog, there's little chance you missed this one, but it's such an important work to have in English, a labor of love for an incredible writer (and that cover's damn sexy, too). 


Updates, thoughts and things to come

Lists, New Books, News, AwardsZoe PerryComment

Frankfurt Book Fair has come and gone, and the number of Brazilian writers invited could be counted on one hand. I had intended to do a longer write-up about this, but to be honest, my feelings of frustration and disappointment surrounding certain things going on in Brazil at the moment, both politically and economically, have reached such numbing levels that I just don't have it in me. Instead, I'm going to plug the incredible authors who did go to Frankfurt. What the delegation lacked in size, they more than served up in literary prowess.

Noemi Jaffe recently published the incredible novel, Irisz: as orquídeas (Irisz: Orchids). The year isn't over yet, but I already know this is my favorite book of 2015. Review soon to come.

Check out the gorgeous cover of Fernando Bonassi's new book, Luxúria (Lust). I recently did a sample from this book, and will be putting together a review soon.

Ricardo Lísias, one of Granta's best young Brazilian writers, was also there. You can read more about him here. Lísias is the current Writer-in-Residence at the Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies at the University College London (UCL). If you happen to be in London, he will speaking at the Brazilian Embassy with Fernando Vilhena, editorial assistant at Granta, on Thursday, December 3, 2015 at 6pm. More info here.

Luis Krausz was invited as a translator, but he's a talented author in his own right. His second novel, Deserto (The Desert/Deserted) won the Benvirá prize. It's a lovely book that I'm long overdue in reviewing here.

I'd also like to note the three Brazilian editors invited, representing the best and brightest in indy publishing in Brazil: Raquel Menezes (Oficina de Raquel), Cide Piquet (Editora 34) and William Oliveira (Apicuri). One of the most delightful memories of my residency this past July was the rainy afternoon I spent hanging out in the Editora 34 offices in São Paulo. They are doing amazing, inspiring things and have an incredible list.

Brazil had just a slightly smaller showing at the Boston Book Festival, where Pessoa magazine launched the English version of their special issue (originally released in French at the Paris Book Fair) of translated contemporary Brazilian literature, with work by 25 authors from across the country in prose, poetry, children's lit and theater. Writers include: Alexandre Vidal Porto, Evandro Affonso Ferreira (both translated by me), Elvira Vigna, Andrea Del Fuego, Jacques Fux, Alexandre Staut, Luisa Geisler, Amilcar Bettega, Luci Collin, Ana Martins Marques, Adriana Lisboa, Eucanaã Ferraz, Alice Sant’Anna, Nuno Ramos, Mariana Ianelli, Dora Ribeiro, Moacir Amâncio, Ana Elisa Ribeiro, Alberto Bresciani, Daniel Munduruku, Cintia Moscovich, Lúcia Hiratsuka, Maria Valéria Rezende and Paula Autran. Alexandre Vidal Porto, Luisa Geisler and Nuno Ramos were all in Boston for the launch, where they participated in a roundtable discussion. 

And, the Guadalajara International Book Fair rolls around at the end of this month. After sending sizable delegations in recent years, I'm finding it impossible to locate any information about this year's authors from Brazil. Is no one going? Have they just not announced the names yet (never outside the realm of possibilities)? If anyone has any information, please let me know.

The Brazilian National Library just announced the winners of their 2015 awards, in Poetry, Novel, Short Story, Translation, Graphic Design, Young Adult, Children's, Literary Essay and Social Essay.  Indy publishing was in the spotlight, with only three winners published by one of the big houses.

The winner of the Best Novel prize was the amazing Turismo para cegos (Tourism for the Blind) by Tércia Montenegro, published by Companhia das Letras. This book is definitely in my top three of 2015. Review coming soon.

Finally, I want to mention a few other brand new releases I'm excited about. My favorite, Lourenço Mutarelli, has just published his first novel since 2010's A Arte de Fazer Efeito sem Causa O Grifo de Abdera (The Griffin of Abdera), which blends straight prose with graphic novel. I haven't read it yet, but it looks to be his best and most ambitious work, and impressive experiment, yet.

Other upcoming reviews are new books by two writers from Granta's Best Young Writers: A Resistencia (Resistance) by the immensely talented Julian Fuks and Operação Impensável (Operation Unthinkable) by the hilariously sharp Vanessa Barbara. I recently did samples for both of these and fell hard for them in the process.

Prêmio São Paulo 2015 Finalists Announced

AwardsZoe PerryComment

Finalists for this year's Prêmio São Paulo have just been announced. 21 books, out of a total of 215 submissions (all originally published in 2014), were selected by a 10-member jury in three categories: Novel of the Year, Best Novel by a Debut Author (under 40) and Best Novel by a Debut Author (over 40).

Ten states are represented, with the typical strong showing from the South: Rio de Janeiro (6), Rio Grande do Sul (2), Santa Catarina (1), São Paulo (2), Paraná (1), Pernambuco (2), Espírito Santo (1), Minas Gerais (4), Rio Grande do Norte (1) and Ceará (1).

There are only two women up for Book of the Year (20%), but women are a whopping six out of seven for the over-40 debut author list, and two out of four of the under-40 list.

And, as far as I know, only ONE of these has been published in English so far, Socorro Acioli's The Head of the Saint, translated by Daniel Hahn, and published last year in the UK by Hot Key, and next year in the US by Delacorte.

Of course, no Brazilian literary award is ever without its own drama. Something unusual, but not unheard of, was that even though jurors could select up to 10 finalists for each of the categories, this year there are only seven for Debut Author over 40, and a mere four from the under-40 pool. All jurors asses every book, assigning each a score from one to five. If the total is less than 30, the book doesn't move on. I'm reminded of an interview with Lygia Fagundes Telles in which she said "a pouca idade não justifica um mau livro". In any case, you can be sure of the quality of every book on the list:


  • Alberto Mussa - "A Primeira História do Mundo"
  • Antônio Xerxenesky - "F"
  • Chico Buarque - "O Irmão Alemão"
  • Cristovão Tezza - "O Professor"
  • Estevão Azevedo - "Tempo de Espalhar Pedras"
  • Evandro Affonso Ferreira - "Os Piores Dias da Minha Vida Foram Todos"
  • Heloisa Seixas - "O Oitavo Selo"
  • João Anzanello Carrascoza - "Caderno de um Ausente"
  • Silviano Santiago - "Mil Rosas Roubadas"
  • Socorro Acioli - "A Cabeça de Santo" 


  • Eliana Cardoso - "Bonecas Russas"
  • Elisa Lucinda - "O Cavaleiro do Nada, Fernando Pessoa"
  • Heliete Vaitsman - "O Cisne e o Aviador"
  • Micheliny Verunschk - "Nossa Teresa - Vida e Morte de uma Santa Suicida"
  • Míriam Leitão - "Tempos Extremos"
  • Rodrigo Garcia Lopes - "O Trovador"
  • Vanessa Maranha - "Contagem Regressiva"


  • André Viana - "O Doente"
  • Caio Yurgel - "Samba em Mim"
  • Débora Ferraz - "Enquanto Deus Não Está Olhando"
  • Mariana Portella - "O Outro da Sombra"

Semi-Finalists Announced for 2015 Oceanos Prize

Awards, NewsZoe PerryComment

It's an exciting day! The folks at Itaú Cultural have just released the list of semi-finalists for the new (but sort of old) Prêmio Oceanos. You may remember I posted awhile ago that this new prize will take the place of the prestigious Portugal Telecom Prize for Literature. The complete list of 63 nominees (of which 18 women), selected from over 600 submissions, is available online, but here are some highlights, including a few writers I've featured on the blog (as well as some I've had the pleasure of translating).

I was delighted to see both Sérgio Y. Vai à América by Alexandre Vidal Porto and As Fantasias Eletivas by Carlos Henrique Schroeder, both reviewed here about one year ago. The former will be published in English as Sergio Y. by Europa Editions, tr. Alex Ladd, due out May 2016. Alexandre also has a short story, which will debut at the Boston Book Fair next month in a collection organized by Revista Pessoa, translated by me. And Carlos has a new novel, História da Chuva, due out in October!

In the novel category, several high-profile Brazilian authors were named, including Luiz Ruffato, for Flores Artificiais, Sérgio Sant'Anna, for O Homem-Mulher, Adriana Lisboa, for Parte da paisagem and Chico Buarque, for O Irmão Alemão.

But there are also a lot of really great, feisty newcomers and young things, such as Luisa Geisler, for Luzes de Emergência Se Acenderão AutomaticamenteSimone Campos for A Vez de Morrer, and Antonio Xerxenesky, for F (a book I LOVED last year and am long overdue in posting a review).

Many of the writers have also had recent-ish English translations (in addition to Adriana Lisboa, Luiz Ruffato and Chico Buarque above): Socorro Acioli's Head of the Saint, translated by Daniel Hahn; Carola Saavedra's (nominated for O Inventário das Coisas Ausentes) novel Blue Flowers, also translated by Daniel Hahn, should be coming out sometime soon; Alberto Mussa's (nominated for A Primeira História do Mundo) The Mystery of Rio, translated by Alex Ladd, was published last year; Bernardo Kucinski's (nominated for Alice, Não Mais que de repenteK, translated by Sue Branford was shortlisted for the 2015 IMPAC Dublin Award; and Cristovão Tezza (who will be at this year's Flipside, nominated for O Professor) – his novel Eternal Son, translated by Alison Entrekin, was also an IMPAC Dublin finalist, in 2012.


Of course, it's not just for novels. Vanessa Bárbara's hilariously brilliant collection of crónicas, O Louco da Palestra is nominated. I love this book, but as I know this genre isn't always an easy sell to the English-language market, I would suggest publishers have a look at her equally brilliant novel, Operação Impensável (Operation Unthinkable), which won the Prêmio Paraná last year. She was one of Granta's Best Young Brazilian Writers and is also a regular contributor to the New York Times.

And for reasons I don't quite understand, the spreadsheet of semifinalists includes a column for genre, with Novel, Short Story, Poetry, Prose Poetry, Crónica, and then some unusually specific categories, such as "Angolan Novel", "Portuguese Travel Writing" and "Angolan Short Story". Vai entender.

June 2015 Updates

Awards, NewsZoe PerryComment

Hello from rainy São Paulo! Today is the first day of my three-week translation residency, sponsored by the British Council and in partnership with the British Centre for Literary Translation and the Paraty International Literary Festival, or FLIP. In addition to cranking out many more pages of my current translation project, Opisanie Swiata by Veronica Stigger (available for publication!) and attending FLIP in Paraty, one of my favorite places, I will be meeting with various publishers, editors, writers and agents in São Paulo and Rio.

I've also been invited to participate in three events, which I'll tell you more about shortly, but first…


I am absolutely thrilled to announce that my translation of Opisanie Swiata was selected for a 2015 PEN/Heim grant! From the press release:

Zoë Perry for Opisanie Świata, the award-winning debut novel by Brazilian writer Veronica Stigger. With her exquisite translation, Perry introduces to the English-speaking world a stunning and tantalizing novel by a young writer on the cutting-edge of Brazilian literature. (Available for publication)

"Opalka peered once more over his newspaper and there was the man, now standing, holding a knife in one hand and an apple, like a trophy, in the other. He sat down beside him and, before eating, turned to Opalka and asked him in Polish: May I help you?"

More information about events in Brazil:

São PauloThursday, June 18, 2015, 7pm at Casa Guilherme de Almeida

Panel 1 (Translation Residency Program) - Zoe Perry and Dirceu Villa with Paulo Werneck

Panel 2 (Mentorship Schemes) -Caetano W. Galindo and Cristian Clemente with Alzira Allegro

Rio de Janeiro, Wednesday, June 24, 2015, 6pm at Biblioteca Nacional

Sérgio Rodrigues (author of Elza: The Girl and Drible) and I will be chatting with journalist Rachel Bertol about our work together on Elza.

Paraty, July 2, 2015, 6pm at Centro Cultural SESC Paraty

The amazing Alison Entrekin and I will be talking about translating contemporary Brazilian authors, as part of the programming at the SESC Paraty Cultural Center during the FLIP festival. Alison's translations include Chico Buarque, Adriana Lisboa, Tatiana Salem Levy, Clarice Lispector, Paulo Lins, Cristovão Tezza, and many more.

Full information (in Portuguese) is available here.

New 'Oceanos' Prize

Awards, NewsZoe Perry1 Comment

It was touch and go for awhile, but we can all breathe a sigh of relief now that the Prêmio Portugal Telecom will continue to honor exceptional works of Portuguese-language literature under the new name Oceanos. Portugal Telecom, the telecommunications company that previously sponsored the prize by the same name, was sold to a Luxembourg-based company earlier this year. After the usual dates for submissions came and went, with no open calls or updates to the website, many wondered whether it had been quietly laid to rest. This Tuesday marked the official announcement that the new incarnation, now sponsored by Itaú Cultural, the cultural institution of Itaú Bank, would rise from PT's ashes.


Along with the new name come a few changes to the rules. Taking a more inclusive approach to genre, there will no longer be separate categories for novels, poetry and short stories/crónicas. Before, one winner in each category took home R$50,000 in prize money, and of these top three, the "best book" earned an additional R$50k. Now there will be prize money for the top four entries, all genres piled in together. First prize takes away R$100,000, with R$60k, R$40k and R$30k for second, third and fourth prize.

At the helm will be Selma Caetano (curator of the PT prize for the past 13 years), Noemi Jaffe (award-winning author and critic) and Rodrigo Lacerda (award-winning author, editor and translator of works by Faulkner and Carver, among others) as the three curators of the award. The initial jury of between 100 and 150 members, will be made up of critics, professors, journalists and researchers. After they choose 40 semifinalists, a second jury selects the 12 finalists. The awards ceremony will be in December, in São Paulo.

Below is a list of all the winners of the Portugal Telecom, with those translated to English in italics. Publishers in the US and UK, that means there are eight awesome books right there you should be considering.

  • 2003 - Nove Noites - Bernardo Carvalho (Nine Nights, Vintage, tr. Benjamin Moser) & Pico Na Veia - Dalton Trevisan 2004 - Macau - Paulo Henriques Britto
  • 2005 - Os Lados do Círculo - Amilcar Bettega Barbosa
  • 2006 - Cinzas do Norte - Milton Hatoum (Ashes of the Amazon, Bloomsbury, tr. John Gledson)
  • 2007 - Jerusalém - Gonçalo Tavares
  • 2008 - O Filho Eterno - Cristovão Tezza (Eternal Son, Scribe/Tagus, tr. Alison Entrekin) This one was shortlisted for Int'l IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2012!
  • 2009 - Ó - Nuno Ramos
  • 2010 - Leite Derramado - Chico Buarque (Spilt Milk, Atlantic, tr.Alison Entrekin)
  • 2011 - Passageiro do Fim do Dia - Rubens Figueiredo
  • 2012 - A Máquina de Fazer Espanhóis - Valter Hugo Mãe
  • 2013 - O Sonâmbulo Amador - José Luiz Passos 2014 - O Drible - Sérgio Rodrigues

So, yeah, that's also a lot of men. I would LOVE to see the first-ever Oceanos prize go to a woman author.

New Spring Reads

New BooksZoe PerryComment

It's been awhile since I received a package in the mail from Companhia das Letras, so I was very pleased to collect these three new releases from the postman this morning.

The big red book in the top left corner is Dois Irmãos (Two Brothers),a title that might sound familiar. This is a new graphic novel by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá (published by the Quadrinhos na Cia. imprint) based on Milton Hatoum's well-loved, Jabuti award-winning novel by the same name about two Lebanese brothers in Manaus. It's gorgeous and just might motivate me to work on a future post about Brazilian graphic novels. And it's not often (ever?) I get to say this on this blog, but an English translation of this one is already in the works!

The turquoise cover on the right is Restinga: dez contos e uma novela (Restinga: Ten Stories and One Novella), a collection by Miguel del Castillo. Miguel was one of Granta's Best Young Brazilian Writers, and if you're a Granta subscriber, you can read some of his work in English here.

And the final book this round is Turismo Para Cegos (Tourism for the Blind) by Tércia MontenegroI actually bought and downloaded this book to my Kindle just last week, after seeing a lot of buzz about it on social media, but I was extra happy to receive a physical copy. It's an incredible debut novel (Tércia is an award-winning short story writer, but this is her first longer work) and I've been loving every page. I want to work on a sample, but for practical reasons I sometimes find it easier to work from a hardcopy than a Kindle version. Perhaps the reason I was most delighted to see this book "in real life" is the (yet again) beautiful job Companhia has done with the cover – it's covered in raised dots, almost like Braille (if you didn't get the hint from the title, one of the main characters is blind). There's a review already in the works for this one.

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And as a bonus read this post, O que não existe mais by Krishna Monteiro, kindly received a couple weeks ago from Oasys Cultural. Krishna is diplomat, currently based here in London, and this book of short stories, mixing prose and poetry, is his first. I'm looking forward to reading this on vacation next week.

Nihonjin by Oscar Nakasato

ReviewZoe PerryComment

In the summer of 2013, I spent a week on the University of East Anglia campus for the BCLT literary translation summer school. Most of that week was spent translating a text with my group of fellow Portuguese translators, alongside the story's author, Cristhiano Aguiar. One of the characters in that story is a student from the Brazilian state of Pernambuco, introduced as being the grandson of Japanese immigrants. While most of us in the room grazed over this detail, moving onto more thorny translation issues, it was met with quizzical looks by a couple of editors who sat in with us one afternoon. We realized at that moment how people with little to no firsthand experience with Brazil are often unaware that the country is home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan.

The first Japanese immigrants arrived in Brazil in 1908, and as of 2000 there were between 1.4 and 1.5 million people of Japanese descent in Brazil. I devoured more gyoza and yakisoba in the four years I lived in São Paulo than all the rest of my years combined. This "a-ha" moment made me question where and how this population is represented in Brazilian literature, and by whom. While I've come across passing mentions of the Japanese community and a handful of minor Japanese-Brazilian characters, I desperately wanted to get my hands on a strong novel with compelling Japanese-Brazilian protagonists, but struggled to find it. So I was delighted to discover Nihonjin by Oscar Nakasato. In an interview with Nakasato in Brazilian lit mag Rascunho, he reveals a similar frustration led him to write the novel. Researching his doctoral dissertation, he was troubled by the way Japanese-Brazilians were represented in literature (or total lack thereof) and decided to write a novel about the Japanese immigrant community in Brazil.

The book follows three generations of one family in Brazil through windows on major life events, accompanying the family's proud patriarch, Hideo Inabata, from Kobe to the port of Santos with the first wave of immigrants from Japan. We are witness to their hardships during the years spent laboring alongside Italian immigrants on the coffee plantations, then follow the family to the bustling neighborhood of Liberdade in São Paulo, where new conflicts arise, rooted both within the family and in the community and world around them.

Despite the epic-sounding nature of this book, it is only 175 pages long. It has no intention of providing grandiose accounts of the history of Japanese immigration (which you can find elsewhere), or detailed explanations for why these people trekked across the globe to a country and landscape so culturally different from their own. Instead, through Hideo's grandson, the book's narrator and the only unnamed character in the book, the reader is presented with a sort of family album of personal memories, feelings and perceptions. Family members die, new generations are born, children are disowned, new relationships are forged, and dreams of returning to Japan wither away.

Nihonjin was the recipient of the first-ever Benvirá prize, awarded by the publisher Saraiva to emerging, undiscovered Brazilian authors. After winning the Benvirá, it went on to win the Jabuti for best novel. Of all the awards in Brazil, the Jabuti seems to be the one most plagued by literati drama. Not for the first time, or the last, 2012 was a bit of a weird year for the prize, and Nihonjin got wrapped up in the middle of it. The short version is that one of the jurors went rogue and the ensuing kerfuffle brought attention the book otherwise might not have received. Unfortunately one side-effect was that some folks questioned its right to be there, when the book, and its very real merits, had nothing to do with the controversy.

I found this book to be a breath of fresh air in so many ways. The writing is direct, devoid of flourishes or sentimentality, but it also has a delicate, dreamy depth to it. This understated elegance and serenity in the face of the ever-present conflict between the characters' two "worlds" feels appropriate, a sort of zen-like written representation of the Japanese aesthetic. Standing firmly outside the club of names circulating and recirculating on the Brazilian literary scene, this book brings fresh talent, fresh subject matter, and fresh characters. And its literary strength and impressive awards are proof that it's worth looking around outside the usual lists.

About the Author: 

Oscar Nakasato hails from the southern Brazilian state of Paraná, and is the grandson of Japanese immigrants. He has a Masters in Comparative Literature and a PhD in Brazilian Literature and teaches in his home state. Several of his short stories have been awarded prizes. Nihonjin is his first novel.

Brazilian Literature at Paris' Salon du Livre

Events, NewsZoe PerryComment

Brazil is the country of honor at this year's Salon du Livre in Paris, which gets underway in just two days, on Friday, March 20. Brazil is sending a delegation of 48 authors, including:

Adauto Novaes, Adriana Lisboa, Adriana Lunardi, Affonso Romano de Sant’Anna, Alberto Mussa, Ana Maria Machado, Ana Miranda , Ana Paula Maia, Angela-Lago, Antônio Torres, Bernardo Carvalho, Betty Milan, Betty Mindlin, Bosco Brasil, Carola Saavedra, Conceição Evaristo, Cristovão Tezza, Daniel Galera, Daniel Munduruku, Davi Kopenawa, Edney Silvestre, Edyr Augusto, Fabio Moon, Fernanda Torres, Fernando Morais, Ferréz, João Anzanello Carrascoza, Leonardo Boff, Lu Menezes, Luiz Ruffato, Marcelino Freire, Marcello Quintanilla, Marina Colasanti, Michel Laub, Milton Hatoum, Nélida Piñon, Paloma Vidal, Patrícia Melo, Paulo Coelho, Paulo Lins, Ricardo Aleixo, Rodrigo Ciríaco, Roger Mello, Ronaldo Correia de Brito, S. Lobo, Sérgio Rodrigues, Sergio Roveri e Tatiana Salem Levy.

This is a pretty decent list, in my opinion, with writers representing various genres, styles, ages, ethnicities and experience. Details on all events and programming involving the Brazilian delegations is available here. I'm bummed I wasn't able to make it, but if you're in the area, it's sure to be an exciting event.

And, in celebration of the fair, Brazil's National Library Foundation is putting out a special edition of their Machado de Assis magazine, with sample translations in English, Spanish or French (mostly English) of texts by 22 Brazilian writers, to be launched in Paris. One sample was translated by moi. You can download the entire issue, or individual texts, here. Authors include:

Veronica Stigger, Alexandre Staut, Antonio Vieira, Bernardo Ajzenberg, Carlos Henrique Schroeder, Christiane Tassis, Eliana Cardoso, Estevão Azevedo, Eugenia Zerbini, Flávio Cafiero, Helena Gomes, Henriqueta Lisboa, João Alphonsus, João Anzanello Carrascoza, José Roberto Torero and Marcus Aurelius Pimenta, Luciana Hidalgo, Silviano Santiago, Sérgio Tavares, Rodrigo Garcia Lopes, Noemi Jaffe, Miguel Sanches Neto, and Mércia Maria Leitão e Neide Duarte

Top 15 Brazilian Novels of the 21st Century – Part 2

ListsZoe Perry3 Comments

Continued from Part 1, here are the remaining seven books highlighted in Brasil Post's list of the 21st Century's best Brazilian books so far, which I've used as a springboard for exploring even more great Brazilian writing.

9. Opisanie Świata by Veronica Stigger

This book has a special place in my heart, and since its publication in 2013 has featured on lists of favorites by critics and bloggers all over Brazil. It has won the Machado de Assis prize for best novel, from the Brazilian National Library Foundation, the São Paulo prize for Debut Author Over 40, the Prêmio Açorianos literature prize, and was a finalist for both the Jabuti and the Portugal Telecom prize. And just look at this beautiful book:

Veronica Stigger first got my attention with Os Anões. Her writing is fresh, smart, exciting, shocking, hilarious and absurd. Opisanie swiata is her first novel (she has published several collections of short stories), and this longer format has allowed her to be just as daring, surreal and funny as in her previous work, but also has given her room to create a fascinating, multi-layered story spanning decades of history and an ocean.

It was included in the latest issue of Machado de Assis magazine, to be launched at the Paris Salon du Livre (click the link to read a short sample). I was also recently selected to participate in a translation residency this June, leading up to the FLIP literary festival in Paraty, Brazil, where I am so excited to continue working on its translation. Interested in a longer sample? Let's talk.

10. Nove Noites by Bernardo Carvalho

Nine Nights, translated by Benjamin Moser, was published by William Heinemann in 2007. You can read an excerpt here. He's been shortlisted for the São Paulo prize three times in the Best Book of the Year category.

11. O Movimento Pendular by Alberto Mussa

A couple of Mussa's books have been published in English, but not this one, which won the Machado de Assis prize in 2006. It has been published in French, Turkish and Romanian. The Mystery of Rio, translated by Alex Ladd, was published by Europa Editions in 2013, and in 2008, The Riddle of Qaf, translated by Lennie Larkin, was published by Aflame.

12. Sinfonia em Branco by Adriana LisboaAdriana Lisboa's writing is lyrical and moving, and it comes as no surprise that she is also a musician and poet. Symphony in White, translated by Sarah Green, was published in 2010 by Texas Tech University Press. In 2011, the same publisher released Hut of Fallen Persimmons, by the same translator. Alison Entrekin's beautiful translation, Crow Blue, was published by Bloomsbury in 2013. Lisboa is also a translator, and has brought several English-language authors into Portuguese, including Cormac McCarthy. Her novel Hanoi, shortlisted for the São Paulo prize, was published in Brazil in 2013. Her short story Success was used for the 2013 Harvill Secker Young Translators' Prize – you can read Lucy Greaves' winning translation here.

13. A Chave de Casa by Tatiana Salem Levy


Tatiana was one of Granta's best young Brazilian novelists back in 2012. Hailed as one of Brazil's most promising young writers, I'd say she has firmly arrived. Making regular appearances at international literary festivals, she is part of the Salon du Livre Brazil delegation this year. This book, her debut novel, was published by Scribe in English as The House in Smyrna just last month, February 2015 and translated by Alison Entrekin. It has also been translated into French, Italian, Romanian, Spanish, and Turkish.

She has since written two more novels, Dois Rios and Paraíso. You can read Lucy Greaves' translations of some of her other work here.

14. Manual da Paixão Solitária de Moacyr Scliar

To be honest, I knew very little about Moacyr Scliar (who unfortunately passed away in 2011) or his writing, except for Max and the Cats, due to the controversy sounding Yann Martel's other, slightly more successful book, curiously also about a shipwrecked boy on a lifeboat with a big cat. So, I was shocked (pleasantly surprised?) to learn that his work has been translated extensively. According to his wikipedia page, twelve books have been translated to English, mostly by Eloah F. Giacomelli, as well as Margaret A. Neves and Thomas O. Beebee. That's a lot, but on that page you'll also see how prolific he was, and a lot of them seem to be out of print. This one, a retelling of the Bible story of Onan, with a modern twist, won the Jabuti prize in 2009.

15. Vozes do Deserto by Nélida Piñon

Nélida Piñon is another writer I know relatively little about. She was once president of the Academia Brasileira de Letras, and had a couple of English translations published in the 1990s, but this one, Voices of the Desert, translated by Clifford Landers, was published by Knopf in 2009. A retelling of the legend of Scheherazade.

Phew, that was a lot of men, huh? Still, I have to say I was impressed by the number of books and authors on this list in English translation. Nine out the fifteen books are already in English – an inspiration, I think, to keep trudging onward.

Top 15 Brazilian Novels of the 21st Century - Part 1

ListsZoe Perry1 Comment

Some days the internet seems to be turning into one big list. I would hesitate to add to the ever-growing fluff, but I don't see a lot of lists of Brazilian books circulating out there… oh wait, maybe that's my job on this often neglected blog. In the last month or so, some decent lists of Brazilian books have appeared online that I think are worth sharing in English. Book Fair season is upon us, and surely someone out there is thinking about new Brazilian finds. I won't claim to agree 100% with the selections, and of course many worthy contenders have been left out, but they're fine places to start! Some of these have already been translated to English, which is all the more reason to check out the authors' other work. I'll include some links below to other related projects as well. Brasil Post, the Brazilian version of Huffington Post, came up with their list of the top Brazilian novels of the 21st century. They begin with some depressing information about how little Brazilians read, particularly their own writers (almost the opposite problem to most English-speaking countries), and explain how they hope this will inspire Brazilian readers to check out writers from their own backyards. Their list claims to be based on awards and the editor's personal preferences, and is in no particular order. This gets a little long, so here are the first eight books.

1. Cinzas do Norte by Milton Hatoum

Well, we're off to a strong start! This Jabuti award winner has already been translated (by John Gledson) and was released by Bloomsbury in 2008, as Ashes of the Amazon. As contemporary Brazilian writers go, Hatoum has done exceptionally well in translation – as far as I know, all of his four novels have been published in English. All worth checking out.

And if you're interested in graphic novels, an adaptation of Hatoum's Two Brothers by Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon is coming out this month in Brazil and France, and an English translation will be published in October by Dark Horse. Here's an article in English with more information and a beautiful preview.

2. Vista Parcial da Noite by Luiz Ruffato

This strikes me as a somewhat odd choice for this list, only because this is the third in a series of five novels Ruffato wrote over a span of six years about Brazilian industrialization and the working class, entitled "Temporary Hell". A sneaky way of squeezing in more books? Possibly, but who I am to begrudge them? This one is about a community of Italian immigrants in the state of Minas Gerais. Ruffato famously gave the opening address at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2013. His first novel came out in English earlier this year: There Were Many Horsestranslated by Anthony Doyle.

3. Eu Receberia as Piores Notícias dos Seus Lindos Lábios by Marçal Aquino

Roughly: "I'd Receive the Worst News from Your Beautiful Lips". How's that for a title? Marçal Aquino is one of my favorite writers – he's a master at suspense, tension, and all things seedy and grimy. I've reviewed another of his books, O Invasor. This was originally published in 2005, and was made into a feature film in 2011. None of Aquino's work has been translated to English that I'm aware of, but this book has been translated to Spanish. Here's an article about Aquino (and this book) that came out before Frankfurt in 2013.

4. O Filho Eterno by Cristovão Tezza

Another book that has already been translated to English, by the amazing Alison Entrekin, published by Scribe in 2010. And for very good reason: this book swept the award season in 2008, taking home the Jabuti, the Portugal Telecom prize and the São Paulo prize. You can read an excerpt of it on Words Without Borders.

5. O Drible by Sérgio Rodrigues

How this book wasn't snapped up for English translation within weeks is a mystery to me, particularly with the buzz surrounding last year's World Cup. Hailed as Brazil's great futebol novel, it was a finalist for both the Jabuti and the São Paulo prize, and won the prestigious Portugal Telecom prize. Luis Fernando Verissimo called it a "great performance", an unprecedented book that's not about soccer, but in which soccer is one of the characters. I translated Sérgio's book Elza: The Girl, which came out earlier this year, and much like that one, this book has a really, really good twist. It has been published in both Spanish (translated by Juan Pablo Villalobos) and French (co-translated by Ana Isabel Sardinha Desvignes and Antoine Volodine).

Bookanista has posted a translation of the book's first chapter. You can read more about all his work at his website. He is represented by the Riff Agency and Mertin Agency.

6. K. by Bernardo Kucinski

Originally published in 2012, this debut novel tells the agonizing story of a father's search for his daughter, who disappeared during Brazil's military dictatorship. It was reissued by Cosac Naify in 2014 to mark the 50 years that have passed since the 1964 military coup in Brazil. While recent events might suggest some people have forgotten about that particular mark on Brazilian history, for many the wounds are still fresh and this book is, in my opinion, more important than ever. Praised by critics and a finalist for the Portugal Telecom and São Paulo prize, it was published in English in 2013 by Latin American Bureau, translated by Sue Branford, and reviewed in the November 2014 issue of World Literature Today.

7. Se Eu Fechar Os Olhos Agora by Edney Silvestre

If I Close My Eyes Now was published in English last year by Black Swan, translated by Nick Caistor. A second book, Happiness is Easy, also translated by Caistor, was published just six or so months later. His third novel, Vidas provisórias, came out in 2013 – it's not in English yet, but I'd say it's just a matter of time.

8. Órfãos do Eldorado by Milton Hatoum

Another from Milton Hatoum. Orphans of Eldoradowas published by Canongate in 2012, translated by John Gledson.

See the other seven books in Part Two.

New Year, New Reads

New BooksZoe PerryComment

Feliz Ano Novo! This collection of six color-coordinated books from Companhia das Letras arrived on January 2. This month's haul includes some very big names and a mix of fact and fiction. Clockwise from top left:

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2015-01-07 10

Sete Anos by Fernanda Torres (author of the novel Fim). This is a collection of Fernanda's columns from the last seven years on politics, movies, life and death. I enjoy Fernanda's writing, and since I missed most of these when they were originally published in São Paulo's Folha newspaper and Piauí magazine, these will be new to me (one potential negative with these sorts of compilations). I was debating if it might sound unkind to mention these collections often wind up in the bathroom, then found an interview where the author herself referred to it as a 'bathroom book', so we're on the same page. :)

O Irmão Alemão by Chico Buarque. You may know him as a musician, but he's also the author of several works of fiction, nearly all of which have been translated to English by the incredible Alison Entrekin. I'm going to be honest: I found the synopsis so convoluted and confusing I gave up half-way through. Perhaps that's motivation enough to just read the book to find out.

Put Some Farofa by Gregório Duvivier. Gregório is a talented poet and one of Brazil's smartest comics. He also writes a weekly column for São Paulo's Folha paper, which ranges from super funny to touching to thought-provoking. Unfortunately, unlike Fernanda Torres' column, I realized thumbing through the pages I've actually read nearly all of these online. Still, many of them are plenty good to merit a second (or third) reading. The title article is hilarious (though not something I'd ever attempt to translate), and one of the highlights of my time at FLIP was hearing him read it live.

O Concerto de João Gilberto no Rio de Janeiro by Sérgio Sant'Anna. This Jabuti award-winning collection of short stories is a republication, originally published in 1982.

Um lugar perigoso by Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza. This is the only author in the bunch I wasn't familiar with, but it seems this detective novel set in Rio is the 11th in the same series.

Favorite Brazilian Reads in 2014

ListsZoe PerryComment

As I wind things down before taking a break until the New Year, I wanted to post a list of my top six Brazilian books from this year. I'm not always good at following rules, so no, it's not a round number, and no, not all of these were published in 2014. But here goes:

Opisanie swiata by Veronica Stigger. Easily in my top 5 books ever – yes, it's that good.

F by Antônio Xerxenesky. I had my doubts when I saw Orson Welles was one of the characters, but this book hooked me immediately. The finest "pop" novel I've read out of Brazil.

Sérgio Y. vai à América by Alexandre Vidal Porto. A powerful book. Also wins for biggest potential spoiler of the year.

De gados e homens by Ana Paula Maia. The first Brazilian book I read this year. Rich and atmospheric.

Um homem burro morreu by Rafael Sperling. Rebellious and hilarious, this guy is right up my alley.

And because I also read Brazilian books in translation, as a bonus, here's one available in English:

Family Heirlooms by Zulmira Ribeiro Tavares, translated by the great Daniel Hahn and published by Frisch & Co. This book was a treat to read and I can't wait to discover more by her.

I haven't posted reviews for all of these yet, but expect them in the coming year!

New October Reads

New BooksZoe PerryComment

Four more new releases arrived in my mailbox from Companhia das Letras. Titles this month include: O Homem-Mulher by Sérgio Sant'Anna

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Por Escrito by Elvira Vigna

Amor Em Dois Tempos by Lívia Garcia-Roza

Bellini e o Labirinto by Tony Bellotto

Stories by both Elvira Vigna and Sérgio Sant'Anna appeared in Comma Press' recent collection of short stories, The Book of Rio, translated by Lucy Greaves and Julia Sanches, respectively.

And I've also received a couple of other books from their authors for review. I'm super excited about a collection of short stories by Rafael Sperling, entitled O Homem Burro Morreu, published by Oito e Meio. He's been described as a mixture of Lydia Davis and Veronica Stigger, which sounds pretty perfect to me. And I love the cover design.

The second one is O Trovador, a historical crime novel by Rodrigo Garcia Lopes, published by Record. Here's its book trailer, filled with high praise:


As Fantasias Eletivas by Carlos Henrique Schroeder

Review, SynopsisZoe Perry1 Comment

As fantasias eletivas (Elective Fantasies), published by Record in July, is svelte little thing of just over 110 pages. Carlos Henrique Schroeder is best known for his short stories, so perhaps it's no surprise he also keeps his novels short and sweet. I'm not a particularly fast reader, and even slower when reading in Portuguese, but I managed to finish this book in a single sitting, on an appropriately grey, "I think summer might really be over" kind of day. As fantasias eletivas is the story of Renê, a receptionist who works the night shift at a hotel in the Brazilian seaside town of Balneário Camboriú. It's the off-season, and the beaches and hotels, once teeming with tourists, are deserted. Renê (also known by his coworkers as 'Mister Alcohol', for both his clean freak tendencies and his drinking habits) has more or less lost everything good in his life. His marriage has fallen apart, he's not allowed contact with his young son (for reasons that remain unclear, but were apparently pretty grisly), his parents no longer want to speak to him. He arrived in the city in an effort to escape his past, and after a failed suicide attempt he leads a sad, solitary life, going through motions, working the hotel reception, procuring an array of products and services for guests, wiping down the front desk over and over, walking home, eating one of two meals he knows how to prepare. And repeat.

One evening he meets Copi, a transexual prostitute from Argentina working the boardwalk. After a rocky start, the two form an unlikely friendship in their shared exile by the sea. Copi is an amateur writer and Polaroid photographer, and Renê is the only person who will see her collection of photos and short, poetic texts that accompany them, reflections on literature, solitude, isolation, and the human experience. Brilliant poetry, this is not, but I believe that's sort of the point.

Renê and Copi both have a lot of secrets, and this book never attempts to reveal them all. The reader dips into their lives briefly, catching glimpses of their pasts, but there is no resolution in the end, and a lot of unanswered questions are left. For such a small book it carries a surprising amount of weight, and not just because in that short span of pages the author manages to include a book within a book, mixing prose, poetry and photography. There's something cinematic about the atmospheric backdrop of a beach resort in the off-season, itself becoming a character.

Though I hate to draw comparisons to Sergio Y. Vai à America, another recent Brazilian book with a transexual character, I found the two bookended one another nicely. Both contain their moments of sad beauty, but whereas Sergio Y. turned out to be a book of surprising hope in spite of all its tragic elements, As Fantasias Eletivas is an overwhelmingly sad book, despite its hopeful, sometimes comedic, elements.

More about the author:

Carlos Henrique Schroeder was born in rural Santa Catarina, in southern Brazil, in 1978. He is the author of As certezas e as palavras, which won the Brazilian National Library Foundation's Clarice Lispector award for short stories in 2010, and was a finalist for 2011 Portugal Telecom prize. He created Brazil's National Short Story Festival and coordinates the Formas Breves short story imprint for Ebook publisher e-galáxia. He is also the executive editor of Revista Pessoa, where he curates the short story section. To find out more about Carlos Henrique or to inquire about international rights, contact the MTS literary agency.