Industrial Park: A Proletarian Novel

Original title: Parque Industrial
Author: Patrícia Galvão (Pagu)
Translator: Elizabeth Jackson, K. David Jackson

A member of Brazil’s avant-garde in its heyday. Patricia Galvão (or to use her nickname, Pagu) was extraordinary. Not only was her work among the most exciting and innovative published in the 1930s, it was unique in portraying an avant-garde woman’s view of women in São Paulo during that audacious period. Industrial Park, first published in 1933, is Galvão’s most notable literary achieve-ment. Like Doblin’s portrayal of Berlin in Alexanderplatz or Biely’s St Petersburg, it is a book about the voices, clashes, and traffic of a city in the middle of rapid change. It includes fragments of public documents as well as dialogue and narration, giving a panorama of the city in a sequence of colorful slices. The novel dramatizes the problems of exploitation, poverty, racial prejudice, prostitution, state repression, and neocolonialism, but it is by no means a doctrinaire tract. Galvao’s ironic wit pervades the novel, aspiring not only to describe the teeming city but also to put art and politics in each other’s service. Like many of her contemporaries Galvao was a member of the Brazilian Communist Party. She attracted Party criticism for her unorthodox behavior and outspokenness. A visit to Moscow in 1934 disenchanted her with the communist state, but she continued to militate for change upon returning to Brazil. She was imprisoned and tortured under the Vargas dictatorship between 1935 and 1940. In the 1940s she returned to the public through her journalism and literary activities. She died in 1962. (Source: publisher)

Industrial Park_Pagu

Paperback: 168 pages
Publisher: University of Nebraska (1 Nov. 1993)
Translator: Elizabeth Jackson, K. David Jackson
ISBN-10: 0803270410
ISBN-13: 978-0803270411
Clique here to buy this book

RIP Gregory Rabassa, translator of many Brazilian books

Gregory Rabassa passed away yesterday (June 13) at a hospice in Branford, Connecticut. He was 94. Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, and translator of many of the greatest Latin American authors, Rabassa translated into English Machado de Assis, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Osman Lins, Clarice Lispector and Jorge Amado.

See an interview with Gregory Rabassa conducted by Elizabeth Lowe in 2007 at the annual conference American Literary Translators Association about his translation process – and the impossibility of translation. And below, Gregory Rabassa reads his 1992 Poem ‘This Dream’ on his 92nd birthday party at the Russian Samovar on 52nd St. in NYC.

He was also the author of If This Be Treason: Translation and Its Dyscontents

Raduan Nassar wins 2016 Camões Prize

Despite having not worked on his literary career for more than two decades, Raduan Nassar has just unanimously won the 2016 Camões Prize, the most important prize for literature in the Portuguese language. Interviewed right after the announcement, Nassar expressed surprise: “my work is a book and a half!”

According to the jury, however, “the extraordinary quality of his language” and the “poetic power of his prose” made him deserve the prize:

“Through fiction, the author reveals, in the universe of his work, the complexity of human relationships in ways that are hardly accessible to other methods of discourse. This revelation is often rough and uncomfortable, and it is not uncommon for him to address taboo issues. This possibility is made possible by the rigorous use of a language whose plasticity is imprinted in different discursive registers found in a body of work that emphasizes the density instead of length”

Nassar, also one of the 13 finalists in this year’s Man Booker International Prize, has two novels recently translated into English, both in 2016: Ancient Tillage (first published 1975 in Brazilian Portuguese as Lavoura Arcaica) translated by Karen Sotelino, and A Cup of Rage (first published 1978 in Brazilian Portuguese as Um copo de cólera), translated by Stefan Tobler. His third book, short story collection Menina a Caminho (1994) has not been translated yet.

The Camões Prize (currently €100,000) is awarded annually by the Portuguese Fundação Biblioteca Nacional (National Library Foundation) and the Brazilian Departamento Nacional do Livro (National Book Department). This award is considered the premier literary prize for an author in the Portuguese language for the entirety of their work. Ferreira Gullar, Dalton Trevisan, João Ubaldo Ribeiro, and Lygia Fagundes Telles are among past Brazilian winners of the Camões Prize.



I found a copy of Clarice Lispector’s The Passion According to G.H. at Review, a wonderful independent bookshop in Peckham. They also stocks Raduan Nassar and Lya Luft, but had run out of them – which made me delighted rather than disappointed – and now of Clarice too, as I bought the last copy on display.

131 Bellenden Rd,
Peckham, SE15 4QY
Wed: 10:00 – 18:00
Thurs: 12:00 – 19:00
Fri-Sat: 10:00 – 18:00
Sun: 11:00 – 17:00

Diary of the Fall

Original title: Diário da queda (2011)
Author: Michel Laub
Translator: Margaret Jull Costa

Shortlisted for the 2016 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

‘I often dreamed about the moment of the fall, a silence that lasted a second, possibly two, a room full of sixty people and no one making a sound, as if everyone were waiting for my classmate to cry out … but he lay on the ground with his eyes closed’

A schoolboy prank goes horribly wrong, and a thirteen-year-old boy is left injured. Years later, one of the classmates relives the episode as he tries to come to terms with his demons.

Diary of the Fall is the story of three generations: a man examining the mistakes of his past, and his struggle for forgiveness; a father with Alzheimer’s, for whom recording every memory has become an obsession; and a grandfather who survived Auschwitz, filling notebook after notebook with the false memories of someone desperate to forget.

Michel Laub’s novel asks the most basic – and yet most complex – questions about history and identity, exploring what stories we choose to tell about ourselves and how we become the people we are. (Source: publisher)

Diary of the Fall_2_Michel Laub

Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Harvill Secker (3 April 2014)
Translator: Margaret Jull Costa
ISBN-10: 1846557321
ISBN-13: 978-1846557323
Click here to buy this book

Diary of the Fall_3_Michel Laub

Hardcover: 225 pages
Publisher: Other Press (NY); Reprint edition (26 Aug. 2014)
Translator: Margaret Jull Costa
ISBN-10: 1590516516
ISBN-13: 978-1590516515
Click here to buy this book

Diary of the Fall_Michel Laub

Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Vintage (16 April 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0099581795
ISBN-13: 978-0099581796
Click here to buy this book


Original title: K. – Relato de uma Busca (2011)
Author: Bernardo Kucinski
Translator: Sue Branford

Shortlisted for the 2015 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

A remarkable novel written by the Brazilian journalist Bernardo Kucinski. K is the story of a father who searches desperately for his daughter, ‘disappeared’ during the military dictatorship in Brazil. The father is himself a refugee from Poland in the 1930s. He is racked by feelings of guilt—that because he was immersed in his Yiddish writing and scholarship, he did not really know his daughter or the danger that threatened her. The novel is based on a true story – the disappearance of Kucinski’s younger sister in 1973. As the author says, ‘Everything in this book is invented but almost everything happened’. The first Brazilian edition sold out in a few weeks, and the novel has been shortlisted for literary awards in Brazil and Portugal. (Source: publisher)

K_Bernardo Kucinski

Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Latin America Bureau (29 Jan. 2013)
Translator: Sue Branford
ISBN-10: 189936577X
ISBN-13: 978-1899365777
Click here to buy this book


Original title: Helena (1876)
Author: Machado de Assis
Translator: Helen Caldwell

In 1850 Rio de Janeiro, Estacio tries to uncover the mysterious past of Helena, his presumed half sister, who has been brought to the family home and with whom he falls in love.

Helena_Machado de Assis

Hardcover: 197 pages
Publisher: University of California Press (1984)
Translator: Helen Caldwell
ISBN-10: 0520048121
ISBN-13: 978-0520048126
Click here to buy this book

Paperback: 197 pages
Publisher: University of California Press (1987)
Translator: Helen Caldwell
ISBN-10: 0520060253
ISBN-13: 978-0520060258
Click here to buy this book

Counselor Ayres’ Memorial / The Wager: Aires’ Journal

Original title: Memorial de Aires (1908)
Author: Machado de Assis
Translator: Various, see each edition below

The last of Machado de Assis’s novels, published in 1908, the year of his death, Counselor Ayres’ Memorial has been regarded as his swan- song and, given its melancholic tone, his ‘reconciliation with life’. In fact it is much more interesting than that. Its central character is Counselor Ayres, a Brazilian diplomat who has retired to Rio de Janeiro after many years abroad. The novel purports to be his diary for the period between January 1888 and August 1889: in fact, it soon becomes plain to the reader that it also tells a story, centred on an old married, and childless couple, Aguiar and Dona Carmo, and two young people, now in their twenties, the widow Fidélia and Tristão, in whom they have taken an intense interest. Fidélia’s marriage was happy, but brief: she also braved the anger of her father, the plantation owner Baron of Santa Pia, to marry the son of a traditional enemy of his. Her husband died in Lisbon, and she has gone into permanent mourning, swearing never to marry again; in the two years since his death, she has visited his grave daily. Tristão is the son of friends of Aguiar and Dona Carmo, and was virtually adopted by them as a child; later, rather than go into his father’s business, he decides to get a lawyer’s degree and finally to go to Europe with his parents. (This is an excerpt of a review by John Gledson, at Babel Guide to Brazilian Fiction, Boulevard Books, 2001)

The Wager_2_Machado de Assis

Hardcover: 176 pages
Publisher: Peter Owen Publishers (Mar. 1990)
Translated as: The Wager: Aires’ Journal
Translator: R.L. Scott-Buccleuch
ISBN-10: 0720607728
ISBN-13: 978-0720607727
Click here to buy this book

Ayres Memorial_Machado de Assis

Hardcover: 205 pages
Publisher: University of California Press (1 July 1992)
Translated as: Counselor Ayres’ Memorial
Translator: Helen Caldwell
ISBN-10: 0520022270
ISBN-13: 978-0520022270
Click here to buy this book

Ayres Memorial_2_Machado de Assis

Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: University of California Press (1 July 1992)
Translated as: Counselor Ayres’ Memorial
Translator: Helen Caldwell
ISBN-10: 0520047753
ISBN-13: 978-0520047754
Click here to buy this book

The Wager_Machado de Assis

Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Peter Owen; New Ed edition (1 July 2005)
Translated as: The Wager: Aires’ Journal
Translator: R.L. Scott-Buccleuch
ISBN-10: 0720612306
ISBN-13: 978-0720612301
Click here to buy this book



Strolling through Bloomsbury yesterday, after attending great events at the Festival of Culture, I popped in Skoob, a second hand bookshop at The Brunswick, and was pleased to find some “Machados”. They had at least Helena, Epitaph of a Small Winner, and The Wager, which you can see in the top photo. I love finding Brazilian books in second hand shops and really need to hold myself back to resist the temptation of buying all of them! As I arrived with only 10 minutes to the closing time, I could not explore the wonderful collection further. I guess there will be other treasures of Brazilian literature, not only by Machado de Assis.

Skoob is a temple for secondhand books (according to Time Out), with a selection of 55,000 uncatalogued works  cover almost every subject imaginable to rummage through.

Skoob Books,
66, The Brunswick,
Marchmont St,
London WC1N 1AE
10.30am-8pm Mon-Sat; 10.30am-6pm Sun

Quiet Creature on the Corner

Original title: O quieto animal da esquina (1991)
Author: João Gilberto Noll
Translator: Adam Morris

Ranked alongside leading Latin American writers like César Aira and Mario Bellatín—and deeply influenced by Clarice Lispector—João Gilberto Noll is esteemed as one of Brazil’s living legends.

Quiet Creature on the Corner marks Noll’s English-language debut. An unemployed poet finds himself thrown in jail after inexplicably raping his neighbor, but his time in the slammer is mysteriously cut short when he’s abruptly taken to a new home—a countryside manor where his every need seen to. All that’s required of him is to . . . write poetry. Just who are his captors, Kurt and Otávio? What of the alluring maid, Amália, and her charge, a woman with cancer named Gerda? And, most alarmingly of all, why does Kurt suddenly appear to be aging so much faster than he should?

Reminiscent of the films of David Lynch, and written in Noll’s distinctive postmodern style—a strange world of surfaces seemingly without rational cause and effect—Quiet Creature on the Corner is a bizarre existential mystery with deep implications. Written during Brazil’s transition from military dictatorship to democracy—and capturing the disjointed feel of that rapidly changing world—Quiet Creature is mysterious and abrupt, pivoting on choices that feel both arbitrary and inevitable. Like Kazuo Ishiguro, Noll takes us deep into the mind of person who’s always missing a few crucial pieces of information. Is he moving toward an answer, or is he just as lost as ever? (Source: publisher)

Quiet Creature on the Corner_Joao Gilberto Noll

Paperback: 120 pages
Publisher: Two Lines Press; Tra edition (May 10, 2016)
Translator: Adam Morris
ISBN-10: 1931883513
ISBN-13: 978-1931883511
Click here to buy this book

Journey to Bahia

Original title: O pagador de promessas (1961)
Author: Dias Gomes
Translator: Stanley Richards

Joe, a simple, idealistic young Brazilian farmer, carries a wooden cross thirty miles to fulfill a promise he has made to Saint Barbara. In a desperate effort to save the life of his beloved donkey, Joe, a devout Catholic, made a promise at an Afro-Brazilian voodoo rite known as “candomble.” When the donkey lives Joe and his wife, Rose, undertake the long and arduous journey through the backlands carrying a cross, intending to place it at the altar of the Church of Saint Barbara in the seaport city of Bahia. But upon arrival Joe meets opposition from a dogmatic priest, who regards the promise as voodoo-inspired and refuses to permit Joe to enter the church. Joe stubbornly encamps on the church steps, vowing to remain until he delivers his cross to the altar. His less-than-idealistic and weary wife, Rose, urges him to forget the promise and return home. Joe’s integrity, however, remains steadfast. In weariness and frustration, Rose succumbs to the enticements of a handsome young man, while Joe becomes a target for personal exploitation by an unscrupulous newspaper, corrupt politicians and a colorful assortment of townspeople. (Source: Dramatist Play Services)

Dias Gomes’ most famous play was first produced in São Paulo on July 29, 1960, and won three Brazilian prizes during the year. It was adapted to the screen as Keeper of Promises and won Brazil’s first Golden Palm at at the at the 1962 Cannes Film Festival, and in 1963 it became the first Brazilian and South American film nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

It seems that a translation by Oscar Fernández called “Payment as Promised” appeared in 1967.

Journey to Bahia_Dias Gomes

Paperback: 79 pages
Publisher: Brazilian American Cultural Institute, 1964
Translator: Stanley Richards
ISNB – I can not find this information. Please help if you know it!
Click here to buy this play

Because of this post at A Short Spell, I discovered a new chronicle in English by Lima Barreto and a new translator, Francis K Johnson. Thank you!


(A translation by Francis K Johnson of Os enterros de Inhaúma, which was published in Feiras e mafuás in 1922)

Perhaps it’s just me, but the Inhaúma municipal cemetery doesn’t give me any of the feeling of peace, resignation and melancholy, the ineffable poetry of the Beyond, that I find in other cemeteries. I think it’s ugly, impersonal, with a touch of inland revenue about it. But even though the cemetery itself doesn’t interest me, I always pay attention whenever I see a funeral procession on its way there, no matter whether rich or poor, on foot or in motor vehicles.

View original post 3,375 more words

Rio de Janeiro: Extreme City

Original title: Rio de Janeiro: Histórias de Vida e Morte (2015)
Author: Luiz Eduardo Soares
Translator: Anthony Doyle

A book as rich and sprawling as the seductive metropolis it evokes, Rio de Janeiro builds a kaleidoscopic portrait of this city of extremes, and its history of conflict and corruption. Award-winning novelist, ex-government minister and sociologist Luiz Eduardo Soares tells the story of Rio through the everyday lives of its people: gangsters and police, activists, politicians and struggling migrant workers, each with their own version of the city. Taking us on a journey into Rio’s intricate world of favelas, beaches and corridors of power, Soares reveals one of the most extraordinary cities in the world in all its seething, agonistic beauty. (Source: publisher)

Rio de Janeiro Extreme City_Luiz Eduardo Soares
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Penguin (5 May 2016)
Translator: Anthony Doyle
ISBN-10: 1846148022
ISBN-13: 978-1846148026
Click here to buy this book

Ten works of fiction to better understand Brazil, a list by Francesca Angiolillo:

“Not only might the following Brazilian books help give Americans a better understanding of Brazil as it undergoes a major institutional crisis, they might actually help Brazilian readers understand that the current crisis is neither incidental nor localized, but represents the emersion of old problems into the current moment.”

Out now: Miss Dollar and other unpublished stories by Machado de Assis

Miss Dollar: Stories by Machado de Assis is a new collection of short stories by Brazilian novelist, poet, playwright and short story writer Machado de Assis, just out now. The bilingual paperback (548 pages) has just been released by New London Librarium and it is not quite available yet (only on the American version, for the time being). Most of the stories are from Machado’s earlier, formative period, and had never been published in English before (as Machado’s works are in public domain, it is possible to find some of them done by independent translators). Miss Dollar, which gives name to the collection, was written in 1870 and published in Contos Fluminenses. It is one of the latest “romantic” pieces of writing by Machado.

Miss Dollar_Machado de Assis

By Machado de Assis, Ana Lessa-Schmidt has worked on Ex Cathedra: Stories by Machado de Assis, together with 13 other specialist translators. She has also translated Religions in Rio, by João do Rio, and is now translating Vertiginous Life (Vida Vertiginosa) by the same author (expected in September 2016). She is also working on a new translation of Love—Intransitive Verb (Amar—Verbo Intransitivo), by Mario de Andrade (which has been launched in English as Fräulein, in a 1933 Macaulay Company edition, translated by Margaret Richardson Hollingsworth.)

New London Librarium, a small literary press in Hanover, Connecticut, has been releasing a bilingual series of translations of Brazilian authors, as well as books on Brazilian history, issues, and culture. The series is being funded in part by four grants from Brazil’s National Library  specifically for support of the translation to English of works by Brazilian authors. Some of the other books by New London Librarium are:

  • Law of the Jungle: Environmental Anarchy and the Tenharim People of Amazonia by Glenn Alan Cheney, translated into Portuguese by Daniela Vidigal
  • Quilombo dos Palmares: Brazil’s Lost Nation of Fugitive Slaves  by Cheney
  • Journey on the Estrada Real: Encounters in the Mountains of Brazil by Cheney
  • Promised Land: A Nun’s Struggle against Landlessness, Lawlessness, Slavery, Injustice, Corruption, and Environmental Devastation in Amazonia by Cheney


Miss Dollar

Original title: –
Author: Machado de Assis
Translators: Ana Lessa-Schmidt and Greicy Pinto Bellin

This is a bilingual edition with the Portuguese original alongside the English translation.

Ten short stories by Brazil’s most renowned writer. Most come from his earlier, formative years, stories never before translated into English. Though lacking the literary sophistication of Machado’s later work, these stories illustrate and dramatize the intricate social workings of nation growing out of the Portuguese roots of kings and courtiers and into the new rules of a new republic in a rapidly changing world. The preface by Ana Cláudia Suriani da Silva and the introduction by Greicy Pinto Bellin, both respected Machadian researchers, give the reader literary insight into what is happening between the lines of these stories. Generous notes provide background information on Brazilian culture. (Source: Publisher)

Miss Dollar_Machado de Assis

Paperback: 548 pages
Publisher: New London Librarium (May 17, 2016)
Translators: Ana Lessa-Schmidt and Greicy Pinto Bellin
ISBN-10: 0996674748
ISBN-13: 978-0996674744
Click here tio buy this book

Idra Novey: Ways to Disappear

David Raimon, host of the literary radio show Between The Covers, talks to Ways to Disappear’s author Idra Novey, a writer, poet and translator of Spanish and Portuguese literature. From Brazil, she has translated Manoel de Barros, Paulo Henriques Britto and Clarice Lispector (novel The Pas­sion Accord­ing to G.H). The last two authors are mentioned by Idra, whose motivation to learn Portuguese was reading Clarice’s original writings. They talk about translation (localisation, foreignisation, domestication), the role of women in translation and literature, Latin American authors, political disappearances, her life in Brazil and, of course, visibility, invisibility and ways to disappear.

A piece of language curiosity: they talk about the difficulties in conveying the meaning of the Portuguese world “embora” into English. Idra says “the book initially began with my fascination as a translator with the Portuguese phrase “vou embora.” It basically means “I’m out of here” and you can say it without adding any information about where you’re going or when you’ll be back. We don’t have a daily phrase in English that’s as vague and accepted as going “embora” in Brazil. Beatriz, the writer who disappears into a tree in the novel goes completely, arboreally “embora.”

On its own, “embora” can be a conjunction (translated as “although”, “while”, “though”, “however”, “albeit”, “yet”, “nevertheless”), an adverb (“even though”, “away”), and it can also means “congratulations”, as a contraction of “em boa hora” (a very old fashionable usage though). In the context of their talk, it needs the verb “ir”, which means “to go”, so we have “ir embora” which can be conveyed as “go away”, “walk away”, “break up”. Here in UK, I think people say “I’m off”. Yep, none of them quite as vague, complete and emotional as it sounds in Portuguese.

Listening time: 50 minutes.

Ways to Disappear is a novel about the disappearance of Beatriz Pagoda, a famous Brazilian novelist and cult-classic Brazilian writer (inspired on Clarice Lispector!) who was last seen climbing into an almond tree, puffing on a cigar and holding a suitcase, and her American translator Emma, who flies immediately to Brazil to join Beatriz’s two grown children in solving the mystery of the author’s disappearance. The novel is set in Rio de Janeiro.

Check Idra Novey’s website.


Captains of the Sand

Original title: Capitães da areia (1937)
Author: Jorge Amado
Translator: Gregory Rabassa

Captains of the Sand is a fine book from Amado’s early more politically and socially focused period of work and was first published in Brazil in 1937. Seventy-odd years later it becomes a book with a new relevance — as a lively portrait of a gang of ‘street children’, now seen as a rising social problem in Latin America’s cities. It is clear from Amado’s sympathetic and well-thought out narrative that this is not a new problem: children were already detaching themselves from, or being abandoned by, fractured families existing in such precariousness that even minimal care for children was impossible. Although there is a documentary intent in Captains of the Sand its romantic title already suggests that Amado wanted to create a lyrical, ‘legendary’ form for his story of a group of abandoned, mainly Black, children in Salvador da Bahia in North-Eastern Brazil. Amado’s legend is linked in with the legendary bandit Lampião, a backlands Robin Hood, reminding us that fashionable ‘Afro’ Bahia has, like Brazil in general, a large hinterland of maltreated peasants and labourers, whose heroes have often been ‘social bandits’ like Lampião.” (This is an excerpt of a review by Ray Keenly, at Babel Guide to Brazilian Fiction, Boulevard Books, 2001)

Captains of the Sands_Jorge Amado

Series: Penguin Classics
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (June 25, 2013)
Translator: Gregory Rabassa
ISBN-10: 014310635X
ISBN-13: 978-0143106357
Click here to buy this book.

Brief Space Between Color and Shade

Original title: Breve Espaço entre a Cor e a Sombra (1998), revised as Breve Espaço in 2013
Author: Cristóvão Tezza
Translator: Alan R. Clarke

Winner of the 1998 Machado de Assis Award for Best Novel from the National Library of Brazil

In a period of just three days, everything changes for young painter Eduardo “Tato” Simmone, who has never sold a painting. During the funeral for Tato’s renowned mentor, Aníbal Marsotti, Tato meets two people who will determine his fate: a beautiful young woman—a mysterious “vampire”—and a major art dealer. When his studio is ransacked and he is attacked, Tato gets caught up in the intrigue surrounding a stone sculpture by famed Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani. A letter from an Italian art historian he met a year before provides clues about the shadowy origins of the statue, but Tato must untangle for himself the dark threads of other people’s fears. As he works through the mystery, Tato discovers a similarity between viewing a painting and the human heart: closer examination shows there is more to each than originally meets the eye. (Source: Publisher)

Breve Espaço_Cristovao tezza

Paperback: 274 pages
Publisher: AmazonCrossing (August 19, 2014)
ranslator: Alan R. Clarke
ISBN-10: 1477819517
ISBN-13: 978-1477819517
Click here to buy this book

Religions in Rio

Original title: As Religiões no Rio (1904)
Author: Paulo Barreto (aka João do Rio) 
Translator Ana Lessa-Schmidt

João do Rio (1881-1921) was a literary journalist before his time, before the term existed, before anyone saw that journalism could be raised to the level of art by infusing it with intellectual insight and sociological analysis.

He went wherever necessary to observe life as Rio de Janeiro struggled to enter the 20th century while clinging to its traditional imperial politics and lifestyle. He flaunted his homosexuality a century before it became socially acceptable.

Here, for the first time in English, are João do Rio’s reports on the bizarre confluence of European, North American, and African religions that found adherents in Rio de Janeiro. Candomblé, Spiritism, Positivism, Satanism, Judaism, the Cult of the Sea, the New Jerusalem, the Physiolaters, the Priestesses, the Evangelicals…they all fell under his scrutiny.

Here, for the first time in English, alongside the original Portuguese, are João do Rio’s reports on the bizarre confluence of European, North American, and African religions that found adherents in Rio de Janeiro. Candomblé, Spiritism, Positivism, Satanism, Judaism, the Cult of the Sea, the New Jerusalem, the Physiolaters, the Priestesses, the Evangelicals…they all fell under his scrutiny.

Ana Lessa-Schmidt’s translation of As Religiões no Rio, brilliant and true to the original, brings João do Rio’s insight and revelations to full light. Just as João do Rio took readers down the dark streets of the low-life and into dark houses of worship, Lessa-Schmidt’s translation takes readers into one of the world’s most glorious and mysterious cities during its post-imperial heyday at the turn of the 20th century. (Source: publisher)

Religions in Rio_João do Rio


Paperback: 410 pages
Publisher: New London Librarium (June 25, 2015)
Translator Ana Lessa-Schmidt
ISBN-10: 0990589986
ISBN-13: 978-0990589983
Click here to buy this book

Tropical Truth: A Story Of Music And Revolution In Brazil

Original title: Verdade Tropical (1997)
Author: Caetano Veloso
Translator: Isabel de Sena

Rebelling against the Elvis-based, American-imported rock scene in late ’60s Brazil, Caetano Veloso suffused lyrical Brazilian folksongs with fuzz guitar, avant-jazz, and electronic music-and in doing so blew apart the status quo of Brazilian culture. Caetano and the movement he catalyzed, tropicalia, urged an adoption of personal freedom in politics, music, and lifestyle. His “rabble-rousing,” as the government saw it, would get Caetano and his comrade Gilberto Gil arrested and exiled to London to wait out the military dictatorship. His fame increasing by the year, Caetano focused on writing songs about his homeland, returning to Brazil as a national hero-a mantle he still wears today. His most recent album, Live in Bahia, was released to international critical and popular acclaim. (Source: publisher)

tropical truth_Caetano Veloso

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Knopf; 1st edition (September 24, 2002)
Translator: Isabel de Sena
ISBN-10: 037540788X
ISBN-13: 978-0375407888
Click here to buy this book

tropical truth_2_Caetano Veloso

Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (21 July 2003)
Translator: Isabel de Sena
ISBN-10: 0747568014
ISBN-13: 978-0747568018
Click here to buy this book

tropical truth_Caetano Veloso

Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Da Capo Press; Reprint edition (October 9, 2003)
Translator: Isabel de Sena
ISBN-10: 0306812819
ISBN-13: 978-0306812811
Click here to buy this book

“Belloto has assembled here a winning cast of writers whose own procurers, colonels, cops, traffickers, socialites, slum-dwellers, embezzlers, tourists, detectives, journalists, politicians, assassins, outlaws, and coup-plotters jump off every page and into your bed. This anthology is delicious and deliciously discomforting.”

By M. Bartley Seigel in Words Without Borders.

Rio Noir

Rio Noir (Akashic Noir) – Brand-new stories by: Tony Bellotto, Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza, MV Bill, Luiz Eduardo Soares, Guilherme Fiuza, Arthur Dapieve, Victoria Saramago, Arnaldo Bloch, Adriana Lisboa, Alexandre Fraga dos Santos, Marcelo Ferroni, Flávio Carneiro, Raphael Montes, and Luis Fernando Verissimo. All stories translated from Portuguese by Clifford Landers.

Hallucinated City

Original title: Paulicéia Desvairada (1922)
Author: Mário de Andrade
Translator: Jack E. Tomlins

Published in 1922, Mário de Andrade’s Paulicéia desvairada is considered his first truly personal, if uneven, book of poetry. One of the characteristics of this volume is the opening declaration to the effect that São Paulo is the tumult of his life, and critics have customarily remarked on the organizing presence of the city in the volume. […] Paulicéia desvairada represents what can be called the urbanization of poetry, and proceeds to examine, in a way previous criticism has failed to do, the incorporation of the material reality of the city into this highly significant inaugural text of Brazilian modernism. (By David William Foster, in Mário De Andrade: On Being São Paulo-wise in Paulicéia Desvairada)

Hallucinated City_Mario de Andrade

Hardcover: 100 pages
Publisher: Vanderbilt University Press (1968)
Translator: Jack E. Tomlins
Bilingual edition
ISBN 10: 0826511139 
ISBN 13: 9780826511133
Click here to buy this book

Bom-Crioulo: The Black Man and the Cabin Boy

Original title: Bom-Crioulo (1895)
Author: Adolfo Caminha
Translator: E.A. Lacey

The novel was the first major literary work on homosexuality to be published in Brazil, and one of the first to have a black person as its hero. The novel caused a stir upon its publication but was almost forgotten in the first half of the 20th century. In the second half of the 20th century, the novel has been republished several times in Brazil and translated into English, Spanish, German, French and Italian.

Bom Criolo_Adolfo Caminha

Paperback: 141 pages
Publisher: Gay Sunshine Pr (June 1982)
Translator: E.A. Lacey
ISBN-10: 0917342887
ISBN-13: 978-0917342882
Click here to buy this book

Barren Lives

Original title: Vidas Secas (1938)
Author: Graciliano Ramos
Translator: Ralph Edward Dimmick

Dating back to 1938 this is one of the all-time great velvels of rural existence in Brazil, telling of the life of a small migrant family (and their dog) in the harsh social and ecological conditions of the drought- plagued state of Alagoas. In an elementally sparse ranching landscape of scrubland and marginal pastures Ramos studies his family in separate chapters, one by one, from the leathery, ignorant father down to the most sympathetic member, the family dog and these chapters somehow seem to be exactly the right length. We share the realities of their lives, including a brush with the law, the experience of winter, huddling around the fireplace and then the overwhelming impact of a town on the two little boys visiting one for the first time, kids who have never seen other people before. (This is an excerpt of a review by David Treece and  Ray Keenly, at Babel Guide to Brazilian Fiction, Boulevard Books, 2001)

Vidas Secas was adapted into a highly praised film by Nelson Pereira dos Santos (1963) and would become a landmark for the Cinema Novo movement.

Barren Lives_2_Gracialiano Ramos

Paperback: 165 pages
Publisher: University of Texas Press (January 1971)
Translator: Ralph Edward Dimmick
ISBN-10: 0292701330
ISBN-13: 978-0292701335
Click here to buy this book

Barren Lives_Gracialiano Ramos

Hardcover: 168 pages
Publisher: Univ of Texas Press (June 1965)
Translator: Ralph Edward Dimmick
Illustrator: Charles Umlauf
ISBN-10: 0292731728
ISBN-13: 978-0292731721
Click here to buy this book

“If this country were grown-up enough to have a literary Good Sex award, this explosively erotic story from the Brazilian modernist would be a strong contender”

The Guardian – Nicholas Lezard’s review of A Cup of Rage by Raduan Nassar, translated by Stefan Tobler

Silence River

Original title: Rio Silêncio (2004)
Author: Antonio Moura
Translator: Stefan Tobler

Antonio Moura’s third collection has the clarity and urgency of a black and white woodcut. A playful collusion of experimental and traditional poetic styles, this collection has both a powerful mythic reach and a bizarre neo-Baroque flavour. Life appears as uncanny, mysterious, something to be faced by the individual. There is a tension between spiritual insight and the sordid realities of life, between the world of today and that of previous eras, between the wider picture and the intensely personal. Moura’s rhythms and his questioning of contemporary assumptions about poetry and our lives make this a powerful and distinctive – and one might say a very ‘Brazilian’ – book.

Silence River_ Antonio Moura

Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Arc Publications (March 17, 2012)
Translator: Stefan Tobler
ISBN-10: 1906570671
ISBN-13: 978-1906570675
Click here to buy this book

Don Juan’s Bar: A Novel

Original title: Bar Dom Juan (1971)
Author: Antonio Callado
Translator: Barbara Shelby

This amazing “revolutionary” ovelovel is full of surprises — not the least being that its author is a middle-aged Brazilian “man of letters” rather than some youthful wild-eyed Maoist. It glides with amazing dash and brio from torture chamber to love affair, more with the elegant grace of a minuet than with the terror of people who almost all lose their lives in failed attempts to reach Che’s small guerrilla band in the Bolivian foothills. There’s no sense of tragedy, only the offhand, almost humorous, way in which middle-class intellectual revolutionaries are likely to die: a bank robber turning his eye from the cashier at a crucial moment because he spots a friend stuffing stolen money from under the floorboards into a grocery bag. But there is a partial condemnation of this kind of half-hearted commitment when Che stoically nears his end; also a rather joyous vision of the future as the survivors more or less accidentally hijack a plane to transcendental Cuba. The action switches from character to character and not a word is wasted in this razzledazzle masterpiece of understatement. The “historical” sections on Che’s capture and death approach grandeur without heaviness, and the clear, functional, completely artless language is admirably translated from the Portuguese by Barbara Shelby. (Source: Kirkus)

Don Juans Bar_Antonio Callado

Hardcover: 271 pages
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf (1972)
Translator: Barbara Shelby
ISBN-10: 0394472128
ISBN-13: 978-0394472126
Click here to buy this book

Clarice Lispector: On death and strawberries

“And now – now all I can do is light a cigarette and go home.
My God, I only remembered that we die. But – but me too?!
Don’t forget that for now it is strawberries season.

The Hour of the Star, in Benjamin Moser’s translation

Photo by Jiahui Huang on Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Photo by Jiahui Huang on Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Another World

Original title: Do outro mundo (2002)
Author: Ana Maria Machado
Translator: Luisa Baeta

Martin and his friends are helping their parents turn an old Brazilian coffee plantation into an inn. The children have a fun time helping to renovate the old place and they sleep in a shed that is being converted into a guest room. But one night they hear the sound of a young girl crying. Gradually, the ghost of a slave girl from the late 1800s named Rosario appears to them. Rosario tells them the story of her life and in doing so reveals the danger and instability that existed in Brazil after slavery ended. Though not the best at writing, Martin promises Rosario to record her story in the form of a book. Though the experience of slavery seems remote to Martin and his friends, by the time they’ve heard Rosario’s story, the evil of slavery is made painfully clear.
Ana Maria Machado’s deft storytelling skills and social conscience come together in this powerfully moving book that explores the history and impact of slavery. (Source: publisher)

From Another World_Ana Maria Machado

Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Groundwood Books; First Trade Paper Edition edition (December 27, 2005)
Translator: Luisa Baeta
ISBN-10: 0888996411
ISBN-13: 978-0888996411
Click here to buy this book

Translated fiction sells better in the UK than English fiction

Research from Nielsen commissioned by the Man Booker International prize has shown that foreign authors are driving a boom in UK sales of translated literary fiction.

Brazilian Portuguese was among the 10 most popular translated books in 2001, together with French, Spanish, Russian and Mandarin. The top translated book in that year was the bestselling The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho translated by Alan R. Clarke (114,430 copies sold) at the top, followed by Veronika Decides to Die, also by Paulo Coelho and translated by Margaret Jull Costa, which came in 6th with 23,941 copies sold.

Brazilian Portuguese has come 10th in the 2015 list of top languages (featuring French, Italian, Japanese, Swedish and German), and sadly not for a new book, but for the same version of Coelho’s The Alchemist translated by Alan R. Clarke, with 22,978 copies sold last year.

Bay of All Saints & Every Conceivable Sin

Original title: Boca do inferno (1989)
Author: Ana Miranda
Translator: Giovanni Pontiero

An evocation of the seventeenth-century city of Salvador da Bahia, or ‘Bahia’, then the capital of Brazil, with its wealth based on sugar cane and the slave trade. Salvador has always been one of Brazil’s most important urban centres and the heartland of the African element in her cultural life. Ana Miranda’s book is a colourful historical novel, following the lives of certain leading players in the courtly and ecclesiastical politics of the age, focusing on actual personalities such as the reforming Jesuit Father Antonio Vieira, an important early figure in Brazilian letters and the poet Gregorio de Matos. (This is an excerpt of a review by Ray Keenly, at Babel Guide to Brazilian Fiction, Boulevard Books, 2001)


Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: The Viking Press, New York, 1991
Translator: Giovanni Pontiero
ISBN 10: 0670834556 
ISBN 13: 9780670834556
Click here to buy this book

All Saints Bay_Ana Miranda

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins; First British Edition edition (19 Mar. 1992)
Translator: Giovanni Pontiero
ISBN-10: 0002711311
ISBN-13: 978-0002711319
Click here to buy this book

Saga of Brutes

Original title: A saga dos brutos (trilogy – 2009)
Author: Ana Paula Maia
Translator: Alexandra Joy Forman

This title will be released on October 28, 2016.

Saga of Brutes pulls together three fantastic stories “Between Dog Fights and Pig Slaughter,” “The Dirty Work of Others,” and “Bone Char,” published for the first time as a single volume. Ana Paula Maia’s narrative follows the invisible workingmen who carry society’s burdens like Atlas. They exist in badness and fraternity, in high heat and intense speed. In the end, these heroes of vile circumstance are the soot-covered supermen who mine the center of the Earth, put out deadly fires, break endless asphalt, collect others’ trash, and cremate bodies. But they, too, amount to nothing but carbo animalis―notwithstanding the impure relation of coal to diamonds. Without romanticizing her protagonists, Ana Paula Maia’s fictional stories transmit some of the tender qualities of Brazil’s brutish men and animals, building, like so many sand castles, a sustainable society on their sweat. (Source: publisher)

Saga of Brutes_Ana Paula Maia

Series: Brazilian Literature
Paperback: 300 pages
Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press (October 28, 2016)
Translator: Alexandra Joy Forman
ISBN-10: 1628971460
ISBN-13: 978-1628971460
 Click here to buy this book

Sergio Y.

Original title: Sérgio Y. vai à América (2014)
Author: Alexandre Vidal Porto
Translator: Alex Ladd

Armando is one of the most renowned therapists in Sao Paulo. One of his patients, 17-year-old Sergio, abruptly stops his therapy after a trip to New York. Sergio’s cursory explanation is that he has found his own path to happiness and must pursue it. For years Armando wonders what may have happened to him. Years later, Armando learns Sergio is living a happy life in New York as a woman, Sandra. But not long after this discovery Armando is shocked to read about Sandra’s unexpected death. In an attempt to find out the truth, Armando starts his own investigation. (Source: publisher)

Read a review by Mario Savioni here.

Sergio Y_Alexandre Vidal Porto

Paperback: 160 pages
 Publisher: Europa Editions (12 May 2016)
 Translator: Alex Ladd
 ISBN-10: 1609453271
 ISBN-13: 978-1609453275
 Click here to buy this book

Rilke Shake

Original title: Rilke Shake (2007)
Author: Angélica Freitas
Translator: Hilary Kaplan

Rilke Shake’s title, a pun on milkshake, means in Portuguese just what it does in English. With frenetic humor and linguistic innovation, Angélica Freitas constructs a temple of delight to celebrate her own literary canon. In this whirlwind debut collection, first published in Portuguese in 2007, Gertrude Stein passes gas in her bathtub, a sushi chef cries tears of Suntory Whisky, and Ezra Pound is kept “insane in a cage in pisa.” Hilary Kaplan’s translation is as contemporary and lyrical as the Portuguese-language original, a considerable feat considering the collection’s breakneck pace. (Source: publisher)

The poet and her translator are the poetry prize winners of the 2016 Best Translated Book Awards.

Rilke Shake_Angelica Freitas

Paperback: 124 pages
 Publisher: Phoneme Media (March 24, 2015)
 Translator: Hilary Kaplan
 ISBN-10: 1939419549
 ISBN-13: 978-1939419545
 Click here to buy this book

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑