The And Other Stories Portuguese reading group returns in 2020 with an all-Brazilian selection! All four of our titles this year are linked by questions of identity and belonging: first, we have Rootless, the debut novel of Brazilian-Chilean author Alejandro Chacoff, which explores rural Mato Grosso through the keen eyes of a young boy returning to his mother’s home state after years spent living abroad; next, we have Nara Vidal’s Luck, another debut novel (and a winner of the 2019 Oceanos Prize), which is set in the 19th century and follows the ill-fated journey of a young Irish girl and her family to the newly established Empire of Brazil; Cezar Tridapalli’s Ground Vertigo is another trans- Atlantic affair, simultaneously charting the adventures of a Brazilian in Holland and a Dutchman in Brazil with intentionally disorienting results; and, finally, we have Whirlwind on a Torrid Day, by Jarid Arraes, an astonishing collection of short stories that explore themes such as gender, race and sexuality in the author’s native Cariri region of Ceara, in the northeast of Brazil.
How it works
1. To read the whole book, you please order the books yourself from a shop or library if you can. If you have trouble finding a title, we may be able to lend you a copy – email email@example.com to be put in touch with the organiser, letting us know where you live.
2. Read the books, then add your thoughts in the comments below.
3. Join us at an online meet-up to discuss what we have read. You can be sure of lively, well informed discussion.
Where and when
September – November 2020
Bruna Dantas Lobato will be hosting an online discussion during the American Literary Translators Association Conference, on Friday, 9th October at 12pm EST/5pm BST.
Victor Meadowcroft will be holding a second online meeting to discuss these books on Thursday, 12th November at 7pm GMT/2pm EST.
Readers are welcome to join either or both events. Please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org for joining instructions.
About the Book
After a childhood in Philadelphia, this novel’s narrator returns to a small town in the Brazilian midwest with his mother and sister. Amidst earthy plains, dusty air and the constant smell of wildfires, he grows close to his mother’s family, especially his grandfather, José, who made his fortune in the notary business. Meanwhile, the shadows of his past lives in America and Chile, and his absent father, a man of dubious morals, seem to hang over everything. As we follow the family’s stories, we’re caught in a net that comes and goes in time, never losing its intensity. In this first novel, Alejandro Chacoff writes in a precise flow, with genuine affection for his characters, composing an unforgettable novel of displacement and alienation.
About the Book
Brasil (or Hy-Brasil) is a mythical island off the coast of Ireland, where the sea is the colour of lead. Those who attempt to explore the enchanted isle end up cursed, the mark of Brasil passed down in their families from generation to generation. Brazil is also the destination of young Margaret Cunningham and her family, who are fleeing the Irish potato famine of 1827 and arrive in a Rio de Janeiro in the midst of the Cisplatine War, during the first years of the Brazilian Empire. Far from a land of wonders, Margaret will discover that her new home is every bit as harsh and unforgiving as the one she left behind.
About the Book
Ground Vertigo is centred around the lives of Stefan, a Dutchman who moves to Brazil, and Leonel, a Brazilian dancer who emigrates to Utrecht. The narrative blends seamlessly between the two characters, blurring the lines between contemporary Brazil and Europe, while meditating on themes such as migration, sexuality, art, language, urban violence and radicalisation. With a unique, free-flowing style that sometimes verges on the Joycean, this is a novel that is neither Brazilian nor European, but somewhere in the middle.
Whirlwind on a Torrid Day
About the Book
Centered on women from the Cariri region of Ceará, in the northeast of Brazil, Jarid Arraes’s stories defy classification—mixing realism, fantasy, and social criticism—and showcase a unique talent for naming and narrating women’s public and private everyday lives. A Catholic woman finds a bagful of suspicious-looking pills and decides to give them a try, only to find herself in the hallucinatory presence of Padre Cícero; a washerwoman tries to make sense of what her daughter wants, leading to a series of disturbing events; a mototaxi driver begins a new job only to be faced with gender barriers. In this dazzling debut collection, Arraes narrates the lives of women with power and precision, introducing a great new voice to contemporary Brazilian literature.