I just got back from a 24-hour (or so) happy time on the hotel roof complete with champagne and fish sticks, and, seeing that we need to check out of the hotel at 8:30am tomorrow to leave for FLIP, I think I’m going to beg off my planned photojournal post (we viste a favela today) and just recommend a Brazilian book: All Dogs Are Blue by Rodrigo de Souza Leão, translated from the Brazilian Portuguese by Zoë Perry & Stefan Tobler, and forthcoming from And Other Stories.
Rimbaud used to do a dance called the Dance of the Blue Pelican. It was one hell of a wiggly dance, using all parts of his body. He learnt it in Africa, he says. But were there any pelicans in Africa? He was free to say whatever he wanted. Actually we all are, but whether it’s true or not is another matter. The truth can be such a sloppy invention and still convince everyone. You just have to be forceful. Or take advantage of people’s natural gullibility.
According to the jacket copy:
All Dogs are Blue is a fiery and scurrilously funny tale of life in a Rio de Janeiro insane asylum. Our narrator is upset by his ever-widening girth and kept awake by the Rio funk blaring from a nearby favela – fair enough, but what about the undercover agents infiltrating the asylum? He misses the toy dog of his childhood, keeps high literary company with two hallucinations, Rimbaud (a mischief-maker) and Baudelaire (a bit too serious for him), and finds himself the leader of a popular cult.
All Dogs are Blue burst onto the Brazilian literary scene in 2008. Its raw style and comic inventiveness took readers by storm. But it was to be Rodrigo de Souza Leão’s last masterpiece. He died that year, aged 43, in a psychiatric clinic.
And one more quote:
I stopped getting bayoneted. I started oral medication. Oral medication is easy to trick your way out of. I know which drugs I take. I always spit the ones I don’t want down the sink. The ideal way to deter that would be effervescent drugs. Of course the feebleminded are totally out of it and take their drugs properly.
Time to watch television. Time for the Addams family to get together. All the nutters would ge together to watch the soap opera. A sergeant, a street cleaner, other dimwits and one guy who beats his head against the wall every two minutes.
I’ve already told that little doctor that he’s going to do his head in. He’s going to have a serious stroke. I blsjdsomdkm0ooooeeirrrriruuuuruuiirrriiirii.
More about this on Friday, but I’m going to be in Rio all next week for the
Confederations Cup Final 2013 Brazilian Publishers Experience. As I’m sure you all know, there’s been a bit of unrest in Brazil as of late (one of the protests on Sunday was staged on the beach right in front of the hotel where I’ll be staying) stemming from all sorts of injustices, including the way Brazil is pumping money in the World Cup (a.k.a. THE GREATEST SPORTING EVENT EVER) instead of, you know, social services and things that could actually help the vast majority of Brazilian citizens. (BTW, as I’m typing this, Brazil just netted a goal to go up 1-0 over Uruguay in the 40th minute.)
World famous, award-winning author Eduardo Galeano came out with this statement
As far as I’m concerned, the explosion of indignation in Brazil is justified. In its thirst for justice, it is similar to other demonstrations that in recent years have shaken many countries in many parts of the world.
Brazilians, who are the most soccer-mad of all, have decided not to allow their sport to be used any more as an excuse for humiliating the many and enriching the few. The fiesta of soccer, a feast for the legs that play and the eyes that watch, is much more than a big business run by overlords from Switzerland. The most popular sport in the world wants to serve the people who embrace it. That is a fire police violence will never put out.
Hell and yes.
And for those of you who are interested, Nation Books (publisher of the best soccer books) is bringing out a new edition of Galeano’s Soccer in Sun and Shadow next month.
Here’s the jacket copy:
In this witty and rebellious history of world soccer, award-winning writer Eduardo Galeano searches for the styles of play, players, and goals that express the unique personality of certain times and places. In “Soccer in Sun and Shadow,” Galeano takes us to ancient China, where engravings from the Ming period show a ball that could have been designed by Adidas to Victorian England, where gentlemen codified the rules that we still play by today and to Latin America, where the “crazy English” spread the game only to find it creolized by the locals.
All the greats—Pele, Di Stefano, Cruyff, Eusebio, Puskas, Gullit, Baggio, Beckenbauer— have joyous cameos in this book. yet soccer, Galeano cautions, “is a pleasure that hurts.” Thus there is also heartbreak and madness. Galeano tells of the suicide of Uruguayan player Abdon Porte, who shot himself in the center circle of the Nacional’s stadium; of the Argentine manager who wouldn’t let his team eat chicken because it would bring bad luck; and of scandal-riven Diego Maradona whose real crime, Galeano suggests, was always “the sin of being the best.”
Soccer is a game that bureaucrats try to dull and the powerful try to manipulate, but it retains its magic because it remains a bewitching game—“a feast for the eyes … and a joy for the body that plays it”—exquisitely rendered in the magical stories of “Soccer in Sun and Shadow.”
And with that, I’m signing off to finish writing up my reports for the 11th Korean Translation Award (more on that tomorrow), to watch Brazil triumph (I hope!), and to prepare for my own soccer match tonight (Terminal Cathole!).
A woman receives letters from an unknown man. Racy? Possibly.
The story above, “Obscenities for a Housewife” (“Obscenidades para uma dona de casa”), by Ignácio de Loyola Brandão is part of the Brazilian bestselling anthology The 100 Best Brazilian Short Stories of the Century (Os cem melhores contos brasileiros do século), a book that was banned earlier this year after being called “inappropriate.”
The book includes stories from acclaimed Brazilian authors Clarice Lispector, Carlo Drummond de Andrade, and Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, among many others, and was bought in bulk by the Brazilian government for public schools as an expedient way to introduce students to Brazil’s literary tradition and culture.
Since then the book, published by Objetiva, has been banned from public schools by the Sao Paulo State due to an objection by mothers against Brandão’s story. A Brazilian court backed the mothers’ objection, citing a “high sexual content” in the book. There is no word on what will become of the government’s copies or if another book might replace the anthology in public schools’ curriculums. Maybe they should ask the mothers.
While I am no expert on school standards or public education, I did manage to find a translated version of the text (of the story, not the book) and read it, and it is surprisingly dirty. Dirty enough to be banned? Perhaps. But as much as I am usually against censorship it might not matter on this one. The book is already a bestseller in Brazil and popular in bookstores. Regardless of the ban, the book is still out there if kids really want to read it.
But then, that too might be up to the mothers.
Only four years old, the Premio Sao Paulo de Literatura has already become one of Brazil’s most coveted literary honors. Created by Sao Paulo State’s Secretary of Culture, the prize offers R$200,000 (more than US$127,000) for the categories of best book and debut writer. The Award is the highest cash prize literary award in Brazil. This year 221 novels were submitted to the contest in the hopes of the prize and the shortlists of the winners were announced earlier this month.
Best Book Shortlist
• Azul-corvo by Adriana Lisboa (Rocco)
• Paisagem com dromedário by Carola Saavedra (Companhia das Letras)
• Minha mãe se matou sem dizer adeus by Evandro Affonso Ferreira (Record)
• Do fundo do poço se vê a lua by Joca Reiners Terron (Companhia das Letras)
• Bolero de Ravel by Menalton Braff (Global)
• Chá das cinco com o vampiro by Miguel Sanches Neto (Objetiva)
• Poeira: demônios e maldições by Nelson de Oliveira (Língua Geral)
• Traduzindo Hannah by Ronaldo Wrobel (Record)
• Passageiro do fim do dia by Rubens Figueiredo (Companhia das Letras)
• Os negócios extraordinários de um certo Juca Peralta by Sérgio Mudado (Crisálida)
Best Debut Authors Shortlist
• Os Malaquias by Andréa del Fuego (Língua Geral)
• Perácio – Relato Psicótico by Bráulio Mantovani (LeYa)
• A ilusão da alma: biografia de uma ideia fixa by Eduardo Giannetti (Companhia das Letras)
• Prosa de papagaio by Gabriela Guimarães Gazzinelli (Record)
• Inúteis luas obscenas by Hélio Pólvora (Casarão do Verbo)
• Manhã do Brasil by Luis Alberto Brandão (Scipione)
• Os unicórnios by Marcelo Cid (7 Letras)
• Método prático da guerrilha by Marcelo Ferroni (Companhia das Letras)
• O dom do crime by Marco Lucchesi (Record)
• Lugar by Reni Adriano (Tinta Negra)
The official winners of the contest have not yet been announced.
Find the original website here
The New York Times profiles the Brazilian authors Márcio Souza and Milton Hatoum and provides an oh-so-brief overview of the Brazilian scene:
Just ask Márcio Souza or Milton Hatoum, two leading Brazilian novelists of Amazon themes. Both were born and grew up in this bustling, ethnically diverse port city in the heart of the planet’s largest rain forest, but both had to leave here and struggle to get recognition.
“We don’t fit any of the established models or niches,” Mr. Souza, 61, said in an interview at his studio here. “We’re not magical realists” like Gabriel García Márquez and other celebrated Latin American writers, he said, “and we haven’t lived through the interesting times that the East Europeans have.”
“Maybe we need more deforestation here to get some attention,” Mr. Souza, the author of picaresque, satirical novels like “The Emperor of the Amazon” and “Mad Maria,” added mordantly. “That’s how the book world seems to work.”
At 30, the Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli is already gathering her rosebuds. Faces in the Crowd, her poised debut novel, was published by Coffee House Press, along with her Brodsky-infused essay collection, Sidewalks. The essays stand as a theoretical map. . .
Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires: An Attainable Utopia (narrated by Julio Cortázar) is, not disappointingly, as wild a book as its title suggests. It is a half-novella half-graphic novel story about . . . what, exactly? A European tribunal, Latin. . .
Marie NDiaye has created a tiny, psychological masterpiece with her Self-Portrait in Green. In it she explores how our private fears and insecurities can distort what we believe to be real and can cause us to sabotage our intimate relationships.. . .
Reading a genre book—whether fantasy, science fiction, crime, thriller, etc.—which begins to seem excessively, stereotypically bad, I have to make sure to ask myself: is this parodying the flaws of the genre? Usually, this questioning takes its time coming. In. . .
The Sicilian Mafia has always been a rich subject for sensational crime fiction. The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos worked the mob’s bloody corpses and family feuds to both entertainment and artistic value. Giuseppe di Piazza’s debut novel attempts this,. . .
Antoine Volodine’s vast project (40 plus novels) of what he calls the post-exotic remains mostly untranslated, so for many of us, understanding it remains touched with mystery, whispers from those “who know,” and guesswork. That’s not to say that, were. . .
It hasn’t quite neared the pitch of the waiting-in-line-at-midnight Harry Potter days, but in small bookstores and reading circles of New York City, an aura has attended the novelist Elena Ferrante and her works. One part curiosity (Who is she?),. . .