Granta has sister editions in Portuguese and Spanish, with the first Italian edition due this year. Ollie Brock spoke to Granta em Português editors Robert Feith and Marcelo Ferroni about the experience of editing a foreign edition of Granta so far.
OB: There are some names in common between the English and Portuguese Sex issues – Mark Doty, Marie Darieussecq – but you’ve also included a lot of different material. Anne Enright, Nell Freudenberger and Gary Shteyngart are all in there. How did you go about making this selection?
GeP: It’s always a challenge. We try to select new English-language writers, but we also need to complement these with pieces by authors who are known in Brazil. In previous editions of Granta in Portuguese, for instance, we had pieces by Orhan Pamuk, Edmund White, Haruki Murakami, Geoff Dyer and so on. Besides seeking this balance between new and established authors, we need to see how each piece will resonate with Brazilian readers. Some pieces, for a number of reasons – theme, style etc. – don’t have the same impact once translated.
So, to come up with a new Portuguese edition, we not only look at the most recent editions of Granta, but also browse earlier issues. In the case of our last edition, we would have liked to include more pieces from Granta 110, but some of them had already been published in Brazil and others were about to be.
You’ve also used Lynn Barber’s memoir piece ‘An Education’, the story of a man who deceived the author about who he was as they continued a relationship together. It originally appeared in a very different issue of Granta – called ‘Life’s Like That’. Do you find the themes of the magazine a constraint? Or perhaps they are liberating?
We find the themes liberating, especially in the case of a broad and very rich theme like ‘sex’. The pieces can speak directly about sex – most of them do – but you can also have a brilliant text in which sex is present, but never mentioned. In the case of Lynn Barber, we thought it was a very strong piece about sex and betrayal, and the film had just come out in Brazil, so it was a good opportunity to publish it here.
Can you tell us a little about the work from the contributors that are less familiar to anglophone readers – Luiz Vilela, Ricardo Lisias, Martin Ogolter…?
Luiz Vilela has been writing for about thirty years now. He has published several excellent short story collections, and sex is a recurring theme in these stories. We included a chapter of a new novel he’s working on right now. Ricardo Lísias is a brilliant young Brazilian writer who is developing a new and original voice, with a disconcerting sense of humour. His piece is a memoir on sex and writing. Martin Ogolter is a Swiss photographer living in Rio, and the author of our photo essay.
The pieces we selected address sex in very different ways. Rodrigo Lacerda’s short story, for instance, doesn’t have a single sex scene, but it revolves around it. On the other hand, Reinaldo Morais – who, to many people, is the most important young Brazilian author at the moment – writes a long story entirely and quite literally centred on sex.
Now in its sixth issue, Granta em Português is still in its early youth. What has the reception been like so far?
The entire experience has been extraordinary. From choosing the theme of each issue, to commissioning original pieces, working with authors and selecting the international texts, it’s been a rich, multifaceted, very challenging and hugely rewarding professional experience. The feedback from readers, press and authors has been fantastic, which has led us to begin to work in the preparation of the first issue of The Best of Young Brazilian Novelists, which we hope to publish in 2012.
What’s next from Granta in Portuguese?
We’re in the process of translating the texts from Granta 113: The Best of Young Spanish-Language Novelists, and we’ll publish it in June. Our next edition, due at the end of 2011, will take on the ‘Work’ theme (Granta 109), including pieces from the original edition and the back issues.