Brazilian author Noemi Jaffe Recommends Five Favorite Books
Noemi Jaffe is an award-winning Brazilian author, literary critic, and teacher of more than 25 years. Her book, A verdadeira história do alfabeto (The true history of the alphabet), won the Brasília Literature Prize in 2014.
The English translation of her book, O que os Cegos Estão Sonhando? (What are the Blind Men Dreaming?) will be published in English in August of this year.
For the last five years, she has coordinated a group of writers and organized the publication of two collections of short stories, 336 hours, and Bestiary.
She currently teaches courses in creative writing and maintains a blog at quando nada está acontecendo (when nothing's going on).
Clarice Lispector: A Paixão Segundo G.H. (The Passion According to G.H.)
If Clarice Lispector had written in English and not in Portuguese, she would certainly be as well known as Virginia Woolf. Her literature explores, as almost no other, the use of the stream of consciousness, revealing the identity and the secrets of a middle-aged woman, living in Rio de Janeiro, who inadvertently finds a cockroach in her maid's room (a very Brazilian characteristic). With this encounter, G.H. is led to discover her inner truth and the way a human being can be regarded by a rejected insect.
Jorge Luis Borges: O Aleph (The Aleph)
With stories that are, at the same time, both fantastic and realistic, with labyrinths, mirrors, the eternal return of time, and characters that seem to belong to dreams, this book of short stories inserts the reader into a universe of strangeness and intimate familiarity. It's as if you knew these people and occurrences that are altogether impossible. With extreme erudition and simplicity, Jorge Luis Borges proves why it was an unbelievable injustice for him not to have won the Nobel Prize.
Julio Cortázar: O Jogo de Amarelinha (Hopscotch)
Having left Argentina, Julio Cortázar lived in Paris for most of his life, where he managed to passionately practice his love for the subway, which, according to him, is a city within and under another one. There, in the meanders of the subway, he creates a combination of stories, therefore practicing another of his passions: games. Oliveira and Maga play at finding each other casually in the stations of the subway, in a novel that can be read in many different ways, according to the reader's desire, thus revolutionizing the history of literature. In all possible ways, though, the effect is always surprising and comforting, as if a life full of joy and love could be fulfilled.
Octavio Paz: Os Filhos do Barro (The Bow and the Lyre)
Though this book is supposed to be a theoretical essay on the subject of poetry, it can easily be read as a literary narrative, for the beautiful images the writer uses to describe poetry and the very poetic way he manages to introduce us to the world of rhythm, time, and even the influence of historical circumstances within literature. By using the Heraclitian metaphor of the arch and the bow - one has to be tense for the other to be relaxed - he touches on issues that go beyond the theory of poetry and reach life itself and the meanings of humanism, comparing trends that belong to many different centuries.
Juan Rulfo: Pedro Páramo (Pedro Páramo)
Although "Pedro Páramo" is considered by many as one of the masterpieces of Latin American literature, the writer, unfortunately, is not very well known by the great public.
This is a story about death and the difficulty of recognizing its coming, but also about the life of most of the people living in countries full of injustice and social inequality, all told without any trace of obviousness. It's a necessary introduction to the life of Mexico and the Mexican people.