Literary agent Lucia Riff, the founder of Agência Literária Riff, is the guest of the Brazilian Curators series this week. The initiative is promoted by Brazilian Publishers, an industry project fostering the exports of Brazilian editorial content by means of a partnership between the Brazilian Book Chamber (CBL) and the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brasil).
Very experienced in the publishing market and in book rights, Lucia pointed out that language is the main challenge for those intending to have books released abroad. “Just a few foreign publishers can read in Portuguese, so all materials need to be translated into English (synopses, quotes, reviews, bios, and the book itself, of course). Despite how good is the material presented, publisher still read a version of the original text”, she explained.
Asked about the features publishers from other countries look for, the agent revealed: “Foreign publishers are mainly interested in books with a Brazilian signature, whether theme, style or content. That doesn’t mean they want a stereotyped view of Brazil, but books addressing universal themes with some unique Brazilian particularities”.
“Our writers, whether classic or contemporary, have a crucial role in the promotion of Brazilian culture abroad, in showing to foreigners the diversity and richness of our people and our history. Brazil is a young and dynamic country of continental dimensions. Our literature represents us with excellence”, she completed.
Graduated in Psychology, Riff has been working in the segment of book rights and image since 1983 and as agent for Brazilian writers since 1991. In her selection, Riff recommended six titles by Brazilian female writers you can’t miss. Check it out:
A MÁQUINA DO ÓDIO (The Hate Factory), by Patrícia Campos Mello:
Campos Mello followed the increasing use of social media during the international elections she covered: in the United States, in 2008, 2012 and 2016; in India, in 2014 and 2019. To her experience as an observer of the techno-populist growth and its “guide to eliminate the critical journalism” was added those of an involuntary soldier on the front of a war against the truth. A captivating book about one of the most troubled chapters of our recent history, “A máquina do ódio” is also a manifesto for the right to information.
Patrícia Campos Mello is a special reporter and columnist of the Folha de São Paulo newspaper, as well as international news commentator on TV channels Band and BandNews. She has won several journalism awards and has been writing about foreign affairs, economics and human rights for 18 years. As a reporter she visited almost 50 countries. In 2017, Companhia das Letras published her book entitled “Lua de mel em Kobane” (Honeymoon in Kobane), in which she narrates the war against the Islamic State in Syria through the eyes of a refugee couple she met in that country. Her most recent book, “A máquina do ódio”, was published in 2020 by the same publishing house. Patrícia also wrote “Índia – Da miséria à potência” (India – From poverty to power), published by Planeta.
A DEFESA DO ESPAÇO CÍVICO (Defending Civic Space), by Ilona Szabó
Based on her personal experiences and deep researches in her field of action, Ilona shows how populist-authoritarian governments manipulate constitutional mechanisms, increase intimidation and censorship, promote violence and, by doing so, they gradually undermine democracy. She also discusses what we can do to fight such situation in the various spheres of society.
The book also includes important remarks about the challenges faced by democracy worldwide and the profiles of leaders, organizations and entities impacting the practice of citizenship.
llona Szabó is a civic entrepreneur specialized in public security and drug policy. She has a master’s degree in International Studies from the Uppsala University, in Sweden, has a major in International Development from the Oslo University, and a bachelor degree in Foreign Affairs. She is the co-founder and CEO of Instituto Igarapé, a think tank globally renowned for developing new technologies and elaborating and proposing policies based on security, justice and development.
BRASIL, CONSTRUTOR DE RUÍNAS (Brazil, Wreckage Builder), by Eliane Brum:
Based on news reports and opinion pieces written in the past few years, especially for her column in the El País newspaper, Eliane points out not only objective but also subjective changes, which sometimes are the most important: from the election of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the first workman to hold the position of president of the country, to the first hundred days of the far-right government of Jair Bolsonaro.
She also analyzes themes that are crucial to understand the first two decades of the 21st Century, such as the increasing number of evangelicals, the systemic racism, the violence that kills the poor, the new feminisms, the lack of memory and the authoritarianism that has been watching us for a long time. She interprets Brazil based on the destruction of forests by left- and right-wing governments. The Amazon rainforest is the heart of the world – and of this book, too.
Eliane Brum is a journalist, writer and documentary filmmaker who spends a good amount of her time in Altamira, in the middle of the Amazon forest. She wrote nonfiction books and a novel, and participated in anthologies of chronicles, short stories and essays. As a journalist, she won over 40 national and international awards, like Esso, Vladimir Herzog and King of Spain. In 2008, she won the United Nations Special Press Trophy “for everything she has done and is still doing for Justice and Democracy”.
SUÍTE TÓQUIO (Tokyo Suite), by Giovana Madalosso
In this road trip novel, Giovana Madalosso addresses the lives of characters who seem to be in an eternal search for something – love, redemption, sex –, anything that could take them to a different place. The kidnapping of Cora impacts the past and the present, affects the desire and the resentment, and the desperate search that comes as a consequence is also a painful reckoning with life and the expectations we raise.
“Suíte Tóquio” is a vertiginous tragicomic novel set in the middle ground between what people want to be and what they really are.
Giovana Madalosso graduated in Journalism from Universidade Federal do Paraná and studied screenwriting in the New York University. She debuted in 2016 as a short story writer. The book “A teta racional” (The rational tit) (Editora Grua) was a finalist in the Brazilian National Library Foundation Prize. In 2018, “Tudo pode ser roubado” (Everything can be stolen) (Todavia), a finalist novel in the São Paulo Prize for Literature, was published, and the rights to the book were sold for the production of a TV program. In 2020, “Suíte Tóquio” was published by Todavia.
O PESO DO PÁSSARO MORTO (The dead bird’s weight), by Aline Bei
The book covers the life of a woman, from 8 to 52 years old, and the narrative goes from everyday events to big tragedies that pass on from one generation to the next. Heavy but light, violent but poetic – that’s the perfect description of “O peso do pássaro morto”, the first novel of Aline Bei. The character of the story tries hard not to be defined only by the pain she is made of.
Young, lighthearted and with a peculiar writing style, Aline Bei appears as one of the most promising names of the Brazilian contemporary literature. In 2017, she wrote her first novel, “O peso do pássaro morto” (Editora Nós), and drew the attention of critics and readers. Aline won the São Paulo Prize for Literature in the Under 40 Debut Writer category for such book.
Combining elements from prose and poetry, the writer precisely spreads words on the pages and gives a unique rhythm to the text, while discusses moral values of society.
O QUE ELA SUSSURRA (Her whispers), by Noemi Jaffe
Based on a true story, the peculiar novel developed by Noemi Jaffe is about the power of love, the pains of repression and mainly about female desire and its constant erasure.
Noemi Jaffe was born in São Paulo in 1962. She is a writer, professor and literary critic, and organized two short stories anthologies: “336 Horas” (336 Hours) (Casa da Palavra) and “Bestiário” (Bestiary) (Terceiro Nome). She debuted in literature at 43, and her works include poems, short stories, chronicles and nonfiction books.
About Brazilian Publishers
Created in 2008, Brazilian Publishers is a sector project that encourages the export of content produced by Brazilian publishing houses. It is a result of a partnership between the Brazilian Book Chamber – CBL and Apex-Brasil (Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency). This initiative aims to promote the Brazilian publishing industry in the global market, contributing to the professionalization of the nation’s publishing houses.