Winner of the Machado de Assis Prize
Driving home, law student Paulo passes a figure at the side of the road. The indigenous girl stands in the heavy rain, as if waiting for something. Paulo gives her a lift to her family’s roadside camp.
With sudden shifts in the characters’ lives, this novel takes in the whole story: telling of love, loss and family, it spans the worlds of São Paulo’s rich kids and dispossessed Guarani Indians along Brazil’s highways. One man escapes into an immigrant squatter’s life in London, while another’s performance activism leads to unexpected fame on Youtube.
Written from the gut, it is a raw and passionate classic in the making, about our need for a home.
- To read an extract from the book, scroll to the bottom of the page.
- If you had subscribed to And Other Stories before this book went to the printers, you would have received the first edition of the book – in which all subscribers are thanked by name – before it’s official publication, as well us up to 5 other And Other Stories titles per year. Find out about subscribing to upcoming titles here.
- More information about the original Brazilian edition of the book, called Habitante Irreal, here on Paulo Scott’s website. The novel has also been published by the brilliant independent publisher Wagenbach Verlag in Germany as Unwirkliche Bewohner.
- Translator Daniel Hahn writes about the joys and challenges of translating Nowhere People for Asymptote
- Paulo Scott visited the UK and USA for events between August to October 2014, including Edinburgh Book Festival, London Review Bookshop, Marlborough Literature Festival, Flipside Festival, Brooklyn Book Festival and more. More details here about UK dates and US dates.
- Nowhere People made World Literature Today‘s list of Notable Translations in 2014.
- Nowhere People made Booktrust’s Best of 2014 Translated Fiction list.
- Featured on BBC Radio 4’s Open Book. Listen Here.
Praise for Nowhere People
- ‘A powerful, complex and very ambitious voice. In the contemporary Latin American literature scene, Paulo Scott is a must-read.’ Juan Pablo Villalobos, author of Down the Rabbit Hole and Quesadillas
- ‘Scott captures a wide range of Brazilians caught up in the flux of rapid modernisation, as he traces the story of Paulo and Maina, and their son Donato, who grows up to become an internet phenomenon as he stands, in a wooden mask, protesting outside a Sheraton Hotel.’ Jane Ciabattari, BBC Culture
- ‘Paulo Scott is one of the best novelists of his generation and is going to surprise us in the future. Of all the novels of the last five years, I really love Nowhere People. It is one hell of a book.’ João Gilberto Noll, Posfácio
- ‘Nowhere People highlights issues faced by indigenous Brazilians’. The Herald (Glasgow)
- ‘One of Scott’s many merits is to show daring, on many levels. Scott is not afraid to create one of the most interesting voices in recent fiction. And that is the voice of a Guarani Indian girl. Maína is far from the stereotypes of the “noble savage” that orientate our literature and culture. Maína speaks.’ O Globo
- ‘Immensely powerful. […] This novel tackles post-dictatorship Brazilian ideologies better than anything else in fiction.’ O Estado de São Paulo
- ‘Nowhere People is an inexhaustible font of surprises that the author’s firm hand manages to harmonise.’ Rascunho
- ‘Nowhere People is not your average book.’ Folha de São Paulo
- ‘A lush postmodern spin on the intergenerational state-of-the-nation saga… Daniel Hahn’s translation of this somersaulting, playful, emotionally pummelling and occasionally oblique novel is, one assumes, a feat of ventriloquism and linguistic plate-spinning: Nowhere People weighs in at only 300 pages, but contains multitudes’. Booktrust
- ‘An introduction, through [protagonist] Paulo’s eyes, to the complex issues surrounding race and class in modern day Brazil. Post-World Cup 2014, the details here feel particularly resonant.’ Maria-Luisa Meredith, Buzz
- ‘It is powerfully but sympathetically written, with an engaging cast of characters. Another fascinating work from the crowd funded house of And Other Stories’. Journal of the Law Society of Scotland
- “This rheumy novel in translation delivers a stark portrait of Scott’s native Brazil post-military rule…impassioned… Skillfully highlighting the nuanced history of political, racial, and social inequality in Brazilian society, Scott represents an important voice in contemporary Latin American literature.” Publishers Weekly
- ‘Stands out not just through its confrontation with its subject matter, but through Scott’s particular style of writing … Nowhere People is an uncomfortable and strangely brilliant social history of post-dictatorship Brazil, chronicling the young left’s fears after the honeymoon period of civilian rule, alongside the continuing prejudices against its indigenous tribes.’ David Faulds, The Literateur
- ‘This raw and passionate tale set in Brazil about love, loss and family explores the sharply contrasting worlds of Sao Paulo’s wealthy young people and the people of the dispossessed Guarani tribe … a classic in the making.’ The National, Abu Dhabi
- ‘Embodiment of the complex relationship between upper-middle-class politics and impoverished, indigenous culture’ Kirkus
- ‘[A] literary hand-grenade…a series of meditations on revolution, on homes, and on love in the form of an energetic and wide-flung story tracking two people and the lives they collide with.’ Brooklyn Rail
- ‘The And Other Stories machine often seems unstoppable. Like Marvel Studios, they have reached a point where their brand seems to almost guarantee success. It would be easy, then, for them to rest on their laurels and start pumping stuff out. Fortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case….Nowhere People is a novel that, the moment you put it down, demands to be reread’. Matt Todd, A Novel Approach
- ‘Nowhere People is a provocative and interesting read, and feels timely given the focus on corruption and waste in Brazilian politics after the World Cup protests … Overall, this is another great release from And Other Stories.’ Thom Cuell, workshyfop
- ‘The major achievement is the creation of the character and voice of Maína, the young girl who is deracinated by her encounters with ‘Western’ civilisation. The other achievement is that skill with which Scott retains our attention and interest in the two, across decades and continents against a background of post-dictatorship Brazil and Thatcher-ruled London. It is the ultimate expression of everyone’s need for a real home.’ Michael Johnston, Akanos
- ‘Nowhere People is, I think, an exceptional book. It’s a clever, thoughtful, beautifully written, perceptive telling of a story that hasn’t been told before. (I hope you’ll read it when it’s out and I hope you’ll agree.)’ Daniel Hahn, Asymptote
- ‘An audacious story, the novel fizzes with anger’ Richard Lea, The Guardian
- ‘Contemporary Brazil is kaleidoscopically diverse, and Scott takes up the messy human dramas that ensue when these disparate worlds collide in today’s hyperconnected, mobile society.’ Adam Morris, Times Literary Supplement
- ‘Nowhere People by Paulo Scott stands way out among the books I read in 2014. It’s the kind of novel you read and already look forward to reading it again although it makes such a painful read. Translated from the Brazilian Portuguese by Daniel Hahn, it is an innovative and emphatic j’accuse by a former lawyer and activist, a great example of the possibility of political engagement through literature, a reminder of one of the worst crimes in the history of mankind, the crime of displacing and annihilating indigenous people around the globe. Read this if you don’t mind crying.’ Alexandra Büchler, director of Literature Across Frontiers, PEN Atlas, Best Books in Translation
- ‘Scott writes with a fitful, kinetic energy, even a certain fury, as his novel leapfrogs between Brazilian social classes … A revolutionary new work of Brazilian literature … The book’s translation, by Daniel Hahn, is in itself a wondrous feat.’ Words Without Borders
- ‘Short, shocking, lyrical, and very modern novel, Nowhere People is one of 2014’s most exciting releases in any language … bold, fragmentary, funny and sad, it reproduces the texture of contemporary life with irony and love, and deals with the last two decades of the twentieth century in a way that’s all about the twenty-first.’ Pete Mitchell, Booktrust, Best Translated Books of 2014
- ‘Original as well as reminiscent of the modernist masters. It seems Scott is keen to communicate the overwhelming emotions and unsettledness that preoccupy his characters…There is a strong sense of authenticity as the intrinsic connection between the author and his protagonists shines through. Despite cool, polite detachment the story is not without blood and guts. In fact, political argument and passion are well balanced. Overall, this novel is highly engaging, heartfelt and beautifully written.’ Writers’ Hub
Extract from Nowhere people
from Nowhere People by Paulo Scott, translated by Daniel Hahn:
The road sign read ‘Start of Roadside Indigenous Camp (Next 28 km)’, and Paulo has already asked her three times where she would like to get out. She limits her replies to the same gesture with her hand to keep on going. So this time, which was going to be the fourth time, Paulo indicates right,
pulling the car over in front of one of the huts. ‘Sorry, you’re going to have to get out.’ He articulates the words carefully and deliberately. She doesn’t reply. ‘I can’t take you any further,’ he says. She doesn’t budge. ‘Come on, Maína. You know it isn’t safe to be going around, just . . . ’ he can’t find the words, ‘just around like this, with a stranger. It’s dangerous.’ He gets out, walks around the car, opens her door. ‘You can keep the clothes. I just . . . ’ And she interrupts him. ‘Give lift to the city. Then I comes back alone, I come back, you let me.’ Well, Paulo, you begged her and now you’ve got what you asked for. ‘It’s just I can’t . . . ’ Without getting up, she says a choked please. Paulo looks around them, doesn’t see anyone, the hut they had stopped alongside gives every indication of being empty, no sign of activity. The girl is at a breaking point, weakened into an absolute conviction that she must run away and that if she fails at that moment she will end up in some other car or headed for some worse destiny. The moments pass, they are part of a test that intoxicates him. This morning when he turned on the hotel radio tuned to a local FM station they were playing a hit by Legião Urbana: every day when I wake up, I no longer have the time that’s gone. The same line that for much
of the journey he’d had in his head and which is now the imaginary soundtrack getting in the way of his making a decision. His clothes dampening, the rain propels him on. But I have so much time, we have all the time in the world. There can’t be many things worse than her spending the rest of her adolescence and her life stuck on the verge of that filthy road. His house in Porto Alegre is empty, his parents are away, his sister is spending the whole year on an exchange in the United States. He closes the passenger door, having resolved to bring her back tomorrow morning at the latest (that’s when the imaginary voice of Renato Russo starts belting out the chorus).