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.”
This slender, uncanny volume—the second, best-selling collection of stories by Russian author Ludmilla Petrushevskaya to appear in the U.S.—has already received considerable, well-deserved praise from many critics and high profile publications. Its seventeen short tales, averaging ten pages each, are. . .
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Luis Negrón’s debut collection Mundo Cruel is a journey through Puerto Rico’s gay world. Published in 2010, the book is already in its fifth Spanish edition. Here in the U.S., the collection has been published by Seven Stories Press and. . .
To have watched from one of your patios
the ancient stars
from the bank of shadow to have watched
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my ignorance has learned no names for
nor their places in constellations
to have heard the ring of. . .
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