Gringa Reads

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.