055_Global13_Arena_V5

Global 13

Arena Arts brand-new fi ction by Brazilians under 40. All were born when Buarque’s fame as a singer was at its height and, neatly, began Th e fuel to Brazil’s literary fi re to write and publish at around the same time as he did.The Best of Young Brazilian Novelists (Granta, issue 121) shows a young With the Olympic torch having passed from generation engaging with a hi-tech, interconnected world, and it London to Rio de Janeiro, all the talk over neither chooses nor needs to put Brazil at its centre. the next few years – on the sporting front These writers’ narrators remember their parents’ lives under sun- at least – will be of how one of the BRICS dry dictatorships. They take drugs, are inspired by fi lms, travel. (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) Michel Laub writes about pets and a Korean immigrant. In Carol wonderkids will cope with two premier Bensimon’s ‘Sparks’, Cora and Julia listen to Led Zeppelin. In global events: the World Cup in 2014 and the Emilio Fraia’s ‘A Temporary Stay’, Nilo tries to check out of his Olympics two years later. life by checking in to a London hotel. Brazil has, of course, been exciting 21st- is an ingenious surrealist snapshot of artistic impersonation travelling century interest for longer than its role as American country toBrazil is the fi rst SouthStill in Europe, Laura Erber’s ‘That Wind Blowing through the Plaza’ to Bucharest via London. ‘The Count’ is Leandro Sarmatz’s touching, world “sportsmeister”-designate might sug- host the Olympics short and wholly surprising portrait of a Yiddish actor surviving the Na- gest. By the time Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva – zis. Tatiana Salem Levy’s evocation of Rio in ‘Blazing Sun’ is a sensual Lula – took presidential offi ce in 2003, Brazil’s infamous, decades-long search for meaning in a mythic city who’s replaced a lover: “I see peo- spiralling infl ation was stabilising, as was its relatively new currency, ple going past on bicycles, others drinking coconut water while the real. Under Lula, the country’s IMF debt was paid off, new social sitting on a cement bench or at a plastic table. Rio de Janeiro in the programmes were rolled out, nationwide hunger went into steep de- summer says many trite but true things. It says, for example, that cline and oil was discovered offshore from Rio. When Lula’s successor, complicating something as simple as life is useless, that cultivat- Brazil’s fi rst female president, Dilma Rousseff, took over in 2011, the ing pain is a waste of time; that all is worthwhile even if the soul South American giant was already being perceived as one mighty force is small.” booming as many developed economies fl oundered. All the writing here is similarly knowing, sassy, exploratory. It is frontier-crossing, critical of national verities, emotionally frank, Yet problems remain. Poverty, illiteracy and AIDS are, relative to sometimes cruel and often funny. some of Brazil’s Latin-American neighbours, painfully resistant to Granta has performed an exemplary act of translation. In the cen- solution; drugs violence in Rio’s shanty towns – thefavelas – is an tenary year of Brazil’s most renowned novelist of all, Jorge Amado enormous headache, not least for the World Cup and Olympics plan- (Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands is one of his best-known titles), ners. How can such extreme, and visible, degradation be hidden, or at it surely chose the right place at the right time to expose in English least ameliorated, by the time the world’s media descends on the city? a raft of uninhibited Latin-American voices. Brazil’s new writing, Amid charged global conversation about the country’s obvious gifts whether in the hands of a master musician or literary newcomers, and problems, books might go unnoticed. So it will perhaps come as a is clearly as colourful and teeming as its famed biodiversity. surprise to some that behind the popular telenovelas, the football and Carnival, as well as guns in the slums, Brazil is quietly rebooting its James Woodall is a writer and editor. His book on Chico Buarque,A literary credentials. Simple Brazilian Song,was published in 1997 globalfirst quarter 2013 www.global-briefing.org l55


Global 13
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