As part of an ongoing series on the twenty authors from The Best of Young Brazilian Novelists issue – which was first published in Portuguese by Objectiva – Tatiana Salem Levy is introduced by previous double Best of Young British Novelist, A.L. Kennedy.
Levy’s writing is a joy, not for those wary of intensity or anxious for predictability. Her prose is rich, filled with a sense of the vividness and generosity of an author’s available inspirations: the clamour of the senses, the restless truths of the body, the turns and consolations and perils of thought, the wonders of both beauty and ugliness and the meaning and architecture of words themselves. She is able to grant us intimate and convincing access to her central character and she has the confidence to let this access carry the drama and core of her work, rather than resorting to more superficial incident. She surprises with off-kilter detail and psychological quirks: an apartment can have its own biological agenda, a society can be moulded by liquids and share a humid, hungry skin, a woman can choose to be solitary and happily unhappy, even when immersed in a blur of celebrations, voyeurs and exhibitionists, glad limbs and admirable vistas. On the one hand we might expect a hot, physical, humid tale from a city the world associates with hedonism, a beach-front lack of restraint, but Levy makes her beaches and parties and her dancing crowds, strange with premonitions of death, loneliness and altered states. Levy’s heroine, like all the best protagonists, is an acute observer: funny, insightful and lyrical. She can find poetry in mildness, can catch the break in a jilted lover’s voice and conjure up and entire country in a few brief pages. She is excellent company and that, for any reader, is a rare and beautiful thing.