Day: February 12, 2010

Rubem Fonseca – Agosto

Searching for some South America crime fiction books I just came across Rubem Fonseca’s Agosto (1990). Unfortunately it is not available in English as far as I know but I certainly think it is worth to share this information. I’m planning to read it soon.

We can read in Wikipedia:

Rubem Fonseca is an important Brazilian writer. He was born in Juiz de Fora, state of Minas Gerais, on May 11, 1925, but he lived for most of his life in Rio de Janeiro. In 1952, he started his career as a low-level cop and, later, became a police commissioner, one of the highest ranks in the civil police of Brazil. Even though, he refuses to do interviews and is a very reclusive person, much like Thomas Pynchon, who is a personal friend of Fonseca.

His writing is pretty dark and gritty, filled with violence and sexual content, and it usually happens in a very urban setting. He says that a writer should have the courage to show what most people are afraid to say. His work is considered groundbreaking in Brazilian literature, up until then mostly focused on rural settings and usually treating cities with a very biased point-of-view. Almost all Brazilian contemporary writers acknowledge Fonseca’s importance, and quite a few authors from the newer generation, such as Patrícia Melo or Luis Ruffato, say that he’s a huge influence.

He started his career with short stories, and they are usually considered to be the best part of his work. His first popular novel was A Grande Arte (High Art), but “Agosto” is usually considered to be his best work. In 2003, he won the Camões Prize, considered to be the most important award in the Portuguese language.

August’s plot takes place during the first 26 days of August 1954. The book mixed fiction with some real characters and events during the last days of Brazilian President Getulio Vargas who committed suicide on August 24, 1954.