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:
BOOK OF THE YEAR
- 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"
DEBUT AUTHOR OVER 40
- 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"
DEBUT AUTHOR UNDER 40
- André Viana - "O Doente"
- Caio Yurgel - "Samba em Mim"
- Débora Ferraz - "Enquanto Deus Não Está Olhando"
- Mariana Portella - "O Outro da Sombra"