Água Viva by Clarice Lispector (tr. Stefan Tobler)

a nutshell: forget plot/character, this is a 1973 “brain tempest” (Água Viva was intended to convey ~a thing that bubbles~) from one of Brazil’s most celebrated authors

a line: “I know that my gaze must be that of a primitive person surrendered completely to the world, primitive like the gods who only allow the broad strokes of good and evil and don’t want to know about good tangled up like hair in evil, evil that is good”

an image: two words. cat’s placenta | two bonus words. soft oyster

a thought: there are many lofty thoughts aired in this philosonovella (yes I just made up that word) but the one that stopped me in my tracks was one simple remark by Lispector – animals don’t laugh

a fact: the famous singer Cazuza read this book 111 times


want to read Água Viva? visit here

Stubborn Archivist by Yara Rodrigues Fowler

a nutshell: intimate & nonconforming, this debut is a beguiling insight into a Brazilian-English girl becoming a woman while treading a tightrope between multiple worlds

a line: “Here was the wide mouth, the big open bellied loneliness of the Atlantic. Of course, there had been no first trip”

an image: lingual affinity is v significant across this scattered family’s generations – one recurring image is that of unfamiliar words lodging like Lego bricks in the mouth, clunky

a thought: each page is shaped by cultural osmosis, with constant flux between English/Portuguese, thought/dialogue, even present/past (as she grows up, she looks to the stories of her mother, aunt & grandmother)

a fact: Brazil’s military dictatorship of 1964-85 is a whispering undercurrent for the protagonist’s mother, who was an activist; “I am history now!” was her gleeful response to a thesis on the dictatorship’s relations with students – today this rings a devastating note after Bolsonaro’s election


want to read Stubborn Archivist (pub. 2019)? visit here

[PS. big thanks to Yara for the copy!]