Yesterday the first ever list of Best of Young Brazilian Novelists was announced in Paraty. The editor of Granta em português and one of the seven judges for the selection process, Marcelo Ferroni, spoke to online editor Ted Hodgkinson about about why he’s excited about this new generation of writers and what makes them distinctively Brazilian.
TH: Is the novel in Brazil going through a golden age and is this what inspired you to make ‘Best of’ list?
MF: I think we are now experiencing an exciting moment for Brazilian literature, so yes, this is a great opportunity to do a list, when you have a few authors who are already publishing great novels, and others who are just beginning their career. Most of them, by the way, are finishing new novels right now. So I wouldn’t quite say we’re in a golden age, but I would say we’re about to get into one. I’m very optimistic about it.
What are the most exciting discoveries you’ve made during the selection process?
It’s exciting to see how many new authors have novels in progress, and how they seem to be so distinct from one another. One could expect that young authors would only write about themselves, but the list shows the opposite. The youngest, Luisa Geisler, is only twenty-one and creates a compelling story from the life of a successful and stressed executive constantly on the move.
Were there any writers who missed the cut-off because of age that we should be reading or translating?
There are definitely wonderful novelists who missed the cut-off by a few years, such as Adriana Lisboa, whose last novel will be published in English by Bloomsbury, or Rodrigo Lacerda, Paulo Scott and Adriana Lunardi, among others. They’re all in their forties and are yet to be discovered by the English language market. Incidentally, one of the authors over forty, José Luiz Passos, whose second novel will be published in Brazil next October, missed the cut-off by just eight days.
Are there any crossovers in the sensibilities of the listed writers that you consider to be particularly Brazilian, or is this group of writers more impressive for their sheer difference?
Some of the authors deal with themes that have been frequent in the recent Brazilian literary scene, such as family and relationship issues, in very urban settings, but they seem to be influenced not only by Brazilian writers, but by a broad range of foreign authors. We could see them as citizens of the world, actually. Some of them live abroad, some were born in other countries (Chile, Lisbon, Paris), some are of Argentinian, Chilean or Uruguayan descent. Some write about Brazil, others don’t even use Brazil as a setting. That’s the case of Laura Erber, for instance, who writes about an art dealer travelling to Romania. Or Julián Fuks, writing about a young guy having a family dinner in Buenos Aires with a retired (and infamous) general.
Is the novel, as opposed to the short story, the form that most writers aspire to and reader’s flock to in Brazil?
Actually, in Brazil we have an important literary tradition of short story writers, and this is still going very strong among the new voices. But even with this tradition, it’s interesting to see how many of the writers on the list are working on novels right now. Eighteen of them, to be precise. And it’s possible that the other two have plans of doing so. As I said before, this is an exciting moment for Brazilian literature. We may see a batch of new, vibrant novels, really soon.
Your party for the launch will probably end quite early in the evening, right?
Oh, depending on how many authors show up, it might end on Friday morning.
The Best of Young Brazilian Novelists is published by Granta em português and will be published in translation by Granta in November. Next year it will be published in Spanish by Granta en español and Chinese by Granta China.
Photograph © Flip Festa Literária