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.
Randall Jarrell once argued a point that I will now paraphrase and, in doing so, over-simplify: As a culture, we need book criticism, not book reviews. I sort of agree, but let’s not get into all of that. Having finished. . .
Like any good potboiler worth its salt, Fuminori Nakamura’s The Gun wastes no time setting up its premise: “Last night, I found a gun. Or you could say I stole it, I’m not really sure. I’ve never seen something so. . .
Heiner Resseck, the protagonist in Monika Held’s thought-provoking, first novel, This Place Holds No Fear, intentionally re-lives his past every hour of every day. His memories are his treasures, more dear than the present or future. What wonderful past eclipses. . .
If you’ve ever worked in a corporate office, you’ve likely heard the phrase, “Perception is reality.” To Björn, the office worker who narrates Jonas Karlsson’s novel The Room, the reality is simple: there’s a door near the bathroom that leads. . .
I recently listened to Three Percent Podcast #99, which had guest speaker Julia Berner-Tobin from Feminist Press. In addition to the usual amusement of finally hearing both sides of the podcast (normally I just hear parts of Chad’s side. . .
Let’s not deceive ourselves, man is nothing very special. In fact, there are so many of us that our governments don’t know what to do with us at all. Six billion humans on the planet and only six or seven. . .
“Rambling Jack—what’s that?”
“A novel. Novella, I guess.”
“Yeah, it looks short. What is it, a hundred pages?”
“Sorta. It’s a duel language book, so really, only about… 50 pages total.”
“And this—what. . .
Many authors are compared to Roberto Bolaño. However, very few authors have the privilege of having a Roberto Bolaño quote on the cover of their work; and at that, one which states, “Good readers will find something that can be. . .
In Josep Maria de Sagarra’s Private Life, a man harangues his friend about literature while walking through Barcelona at night:
When a novel states a fact that ties into another fact and another and another, as the chain goes on. . .
César Aira dishes up an imaginative parable on how identity shapes our sense of belonging with Dinner, his latest release in English. Aira’s narrator (who, appropriately, remains nameless) is a self-pitying, bitter man—in his late fifties, living again with. . .