One of the most original and comic voices to come out of Brazil – Souza Leão orchestrates a carnival among the mad
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. ‘We’re the minority,’ says our narrator, ‘but at least I say what I want.’ All Dogs are Blue is an extraordinary autobiographical fiction that speaks of mental illness and its controversial treatment, revealing the illumination of the ill in a troubled society.
- 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.
- You can find out more about Rodrigo de Souza Leão at his website (in Portuguese).
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Praise for All Dogs are Blue
- ‘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, 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
- ‘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