Rodrigo de Souza Leão was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1965 and died in a psychiatric clinic in Rio in 2008, shortly after his extraordinary autobiographical novel All Dogs are Blue was published. Due to his mental fragility, Rodrigo de Souza Leão rarely left his house and yet he used social media, blogging and email a lot, becoming close friends with a large number of Brazilian writers and poets who hold him in high regard today. His death was marked by a flood of poems in homage to him.
During his lifetime, Souza Leão was a prolific writer, publishing more than ten books of poetry and co-founding and co-editing one of Brazil’s most important poetry magazines, Zunái. Since his death, further works of fiction have been published to widespread acclaim. All Dogs are Blue has been adapted for the stage and his outsider art has been presented in an individual exhibition at Rio’s Museum of Modern Art, entitled ‘Everything Will be the Colour You Want it to Be’.
All Dogs are Blue
- Translated by Zoë Perry and Stefan Tobler.
- All Dogs are Blue was shortlisted for the prestigious Portugal Telecom Prize in 2008 and now in English was a finalist for the Typographical Era Translation Award.
- Read more about All Dogs are Blue in the book section.
- All Dogs are Blue was shortlisted for the prestigious Portugal Telecom Prize in 2008.
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Praise for Rodrigo de Souza Leão
- ‘Life is lived intensely and with gusto at the asylum in Rio. All Dogs are Blue kept me curious and it kept me laughing … Souza Leão is a mind-blowing poet; his attitude seems to be something like: Why not flaunt the language(s) that madness has taught me?’ Deborah Levy
- ‘A firecracker of a book’ Independent on Sunday
- ‘When I finished reading the book I was so completely taken by it that I could only think about translating it into Spanish and finding a publisher for it. That’s what I did.’ Juan Pablo Villalobos
- ‘Souza Leão’s autobiographical novel…weaves the lives of the poor with the insane, and poetry with psychosis.’ The Independent
- ‘[Rodrigo de Souza Leão’s] writing fizzes with vertiginous energy’. Nick Caistor, Times Literary Supplement
- “Souza Leão uses a kind of language his schizophrenia has taught him, creating a poetry that’s at one moment absurd and the next heartbreakingly self-aware. It’s an innovative, original book.” Justin Alvarez, The Paris Review
- ‘Rodrigo de Souza Leão is an exceptional author and has had a major impact on contemporary Brazilian literature.’ Paulo Scott, Machado de Assis Prize winning writer
- ‘Full of heart and soul, All Dogs Are Blue is one of the most powerful reading experiences I’ve had. A masterpiece.’ Cristhiano Aguiar, one of Granta’s Best of Young Brazilian Novelists
- ‘All Dogs are Blue is a novel as moving as it is full of humour and irony.’ Antônio Moura, Brazilian poet
- ‘All Dogs Are Blue is sometimes ugly, often beautiful and always alive – and it is unforgettable’ The Literateur
- ‘A candid, frenetically paced portrayal of mental illness that lurches between the darkest realms of consciousness and the most elevated and poetic’ Culture critic
- ‘At once surreal and poignant this is one of the strangest and most haunting pieces I read this year.’ Julia Bell, Books of the Year, Writer’s Hub
- ‘This is a stunning story full of heartbreaking sadness and dark comedy in equal measures’ We Love This Book
- ‘Like no other book in the world…All Dogs Are Blue is no book for literary purists, but is a great read for anyone who can embrace the human spirit.’ Douglas Messerli, Rain Taxi
- ‘His writing is genuinely thrilling at times, pushing realism to the modernist limits of hallucination with unexpected turns-of-phrase and darkly drawn images undercut by punchlines that seem to materialise out of nowhere’ Totally Dublin
- ‘Souza Leão’s autobiographical account of schizophrenia is written with tremendous verve and perspicuity, crisply translated by Zoe Perry and Stefan Tobler. All Dogs are Blue is a profound examination of the tricks and quirks of a fragile mind and Souza Leão demonstrates with startling humour how easy it is to tip from sanity into delusion.’ Lucy Popescu, Huffington Post
- ‘The novel’s pained, honest prose left me reeling for much of its length … the headlong rush of prose and ideas becomes breathtaking … for all of the things that we don’t know about this brief, crushingly moving book’s narrator, we do know that he was once a child; we can experience something of that innocence, and the heart at his core. It’s an indication of why we should care about this man, and what warm decency lies at the beginnings of this particular narrative.’ Tobias Carroll , Volume 1: Brooklyn
- ‘An amazingly inspired, gut-wrenching journey that never strays from delivering heartfelt honesty and never ceases to surprise the reader with its vibrant, lyrical prose … Moving and honest, yet also fractured and tragic, All Dogs are Blue is a fierce accomplishment.’ Aaron Westerman, Typographical Era
- ‘All Dogs Are Blue is – at its heart – a long, shimmering prose poem beautifully translated by Zoë Perry & Stefan Tobler’, Booksexy Review
- ‘All Dogs Are Blue is a captivating and brilliant stream of consciousness novella about mental illness in a Brazilian asylum. Souza Leão’s semi-autobiographical story is fantastic … I would go as far as to say that this book is the Brazilian equivalent of The Bell Jar. I wouldn’t say this lightly as The Bell Jar is one of my favourite books.’ Jessica Patient, A View from Here