Brazil Writers Featured
Since the Brazilian Ministry of Culture and the Brazilian National LIbrary upgraded their incentive program for internationalizing their literature in 2011, we’ve seen Brazil be the guest of honor at the Frankfurt, Germany; and the Bologna, Italy Book Fairs. Also, Brazilian writers shined in the prestigious British magazine Granta in the magazine’s 2012 “Best of Young Brazilian Novelists” issue.
At the 30th annual Göteborg, (also known as Gothenburg) Book Fair in Sweden last month, Brazil was again the featured country, and there were twenty-five visiting Brazilian writers in attendance, including Vanessa Barbara, a journalist who writes a regular column for The New York Times and has published a novel; Michel Laub, a novelist; and Daniel Galera.
In a presentation at the Fair on Sunday, September 28, Renato Lasso, President of the Brazilian National Library (BNL), and Moema Salgado, Coordinator at the BNL, presented the successes and challenges of the incentive programs for the translation of Brazilian literature and its internationalization through exchange programs and residencies.
Lasso asserted the soft diplomatic function of spreading Brazilian literature, which “was always a window we used to observe what the country is like”. He stated that literature was the best way to get to know the Brazilian mindset.
The best outcome of the incentive programs, according to Lasso, is when a Brazilian novel becomes de-nationalized. He gave the example of James Joyce: “Joyce is not read because we want to learn about Ireland, but because the novel is part of a global cultural conversation. You can compare it to listening to bossa nova while drinking sake in Tokyo. It feels natural and no one questions it.”
Since 1991, 710 translation grants have been awarded for literature, humanities-related books, and children’s books. Salgado noted that though there has been an increase in translations — 77 percent of grants have been awarded between 2010 and today — their main challenge is helping the global publishing industry to understand and embrace the complexity and diversity of Brazilian literature. “We wish to move beyond stereotypical stories of urban violence, favelas, Carnival and the Amazon.”
This limited understanding is one of the challenges in effectively promoting Brazilian literature abroad. Since 2010 and in descending order, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Argentina, the US, Romania, Mexico, the UK and Sweden have received the most translation grants.
Another goal is to spread Brazilian literature to other Portuguese-speaking countries. Ten grants were awarded in 2012 for this program. “Our role is to enable, facilitate, and contribute to promoting Brazilian intellectual activity abroad without interfering with the market,” Salgado said.
[This article was written by Saskia Vogel and appeared on the Publishing Perspectives website. It was edited by CIE.]