Category: Rubem Fonseca

Rubem Fonseca (1925 – 2020)

descarga (1)Sad to hear Rubem Fonseca, a Brazilian writer, passed away on 15 April 2020. He was 94 years of age.

He was born 11 May 1925 in Juiz de Fora, in the state of Minas Gerais, but he lived 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. Following the steps of American novelist Thomas Pynchon, a close friend of Fonseca, he refused to give interviews and felt strongly about maintaining his privacy.His stories are dark and gritty, filled with violence and sexual content, and usually set in an urban environment. He claimed a writer should have the courage to show what most people are afraid to say. Authors from the rising generation of Brazilian writers, such as Patrícia Melo or Luiz Ruffato, have stated that Fonseca’s writing has influenced their work.

He started his career by writing short stories, considered by some critics as his strongest literary creations. His first popular novel was A Grande Arte (High Art), but Agosto is usually considered his best work. In 2003, he won the Camões Prize, considered to be the most important award in the Portuguese language. In 2012 he became the first recipient of Chile’s Manuel Rojas Ibero-American Narrative Award. He died in Rio de Janeiro in 15 April 2020 at the age of 94 just 26 days before his 95th birthday. (Source: Wikipedia)

Further reading:

Rubem Fomseca (Carmen Balcells Literary Agency)

Rubem Fonseca’s “The Taker and Other Stories” Reviewed by Dan Bevacqua (Words Without Borders) 

Blame It on Rio, by James Polk

English translations

  • High Art (translation Ellen Watson. Harper & Row, New York, 1986)
    [Original title: A Grande Arte (1983)]

  • Bufo & Spallanzani (translation Clifford E. Landers. Dutton, New York, 1990)
    [Original title: Bufo & Spallanzani (1986)]

  • The Lost Manuscript aka Vast Emotions and Imperfect Thoughts (translation Clifford E. Landers. Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, London, 1997) [Original title: Vastas Emoções e Pensamentos Imperfeitos (1988)]
  • The Taker and Other Stories (translation Clifford E. Landers. Open Letter, New York, 2008)
  • Crimes of August: A Novel (translation Clifford E. Landers. Tagus Press, Dartmouth Massachusetts, 2014) [Original title: Agosto (1990)]

3185344What better place to hide a collection of priceless jewels than among the glitter and ostrich feathers of Rio’s Carnival parade? Fonseca’s narrator, a film-director, is amazed to find himself suddenly the custodian of such a valuable horde after the nocturnal visit of a young dancer who he later learns from the television news has been murdered. This windfall will allow him to film a story by the famous Russian writer Isaac Babel about whom he is passionate. Before he even has a script in hand, the director finds himself pursued by Brazilian smugglers and flying towards Berlin where a web of skulduggery – literary and politics – waits to ensnare him.

A bestseller when published in Brazil, Italy and Mexico, The Lost Manuscript, like other novels by Rubem Fonseca, utilise the thriller framework to present searing insights into the human psyche. Filled with fascinating detail of the high camp world of Carnival costume design, the intricate history of precious stones, the nature of dreams and the subtlety of film-making, it is absorbing at every level.

The translator of The Lost Manuscript, Clifford E. Landers, is professor of political science at Jersey State Collage (USA). He has translated novels by Jorge Amado, Joao Ubaldo Ribeiro, Patricia Melo and Chico Buarque.  (Source: back-cover blurb).

2012 Crime Fiction Alphabet, F is for Fonseca

My intention, in this new edition of the Crime Fiction Alphabet, is to introduce you Spanish or Portuguese language writers of crime fiction. My letter “F” is for Fonseca.

Rubem Fonseca is considered one of Brazil’s most influential writers, and was awarded the Prémio Camões—considered the Nobel Prize of Portuguese language literature—for his body of work in 2003. That same year he was awarded the Juan Rulfo Prize. He is the author of eight novels, including High Art, Vast Emotions and Imperfect Thoughts, and Bufo & Spallanzani, all of which have been published in English translation. One of his famous characters is Mandrake, a cynical and amoral lawyer and the basis for an HBO series.

High Art (Harper & Row, 1986). Translated by Ellen Watson. Originally published under the title A Grande Arte in 1983.

From the Publisher: High Art is a crime/thriller story set in Brazil that is reminiscent of Raymond Chandler, with vivid descriptions of the urban landscape and interiors and a fast-paced dialogue. A criminal lawyer in Rio named Mandrake is working on a case involving the murder of two prostitutes. a case that grows and has implications far beyond what it first appears to be. There are other murders and also Mandrake’s continual entanglements with different women. Against an erotic and violent background the story unfolds with the discovery of a mysterious organization that traffics in cocaine out of Bolivia. The novel gives a stark portrait of Brazilian society from the European postcolonial oligarchy (complete with incest, madness, political-financial wheeling and dealing) to the extremes of poverty both urban and in the interior. Finally the pieces of the puzzle come together. though leaving still an element of mystery as Mandrake finds solace with the nubile Bebel. (Zenos Books)

Bufo & Spallanzani (Dutton 1990). Translated from the Portuguese by Clifford E. Landers. Originally published under the title Bufo & Spallanzani in 1986.

On a dead-end street in Rio, Delfina Delamare, socialite wife of multimillionaire Eugenio, is found shot in the heart. The original verdict of suicide is soon dismissed, but this is no ordinary murder. Delfina’s jewels are still on her body, and whoever pulled the trigger carefully unbuttoned her blouse first, then rebuttoned it, leaving a serene, scarcely blemished corpse. In the glove compartment is a new novel, The Lovers, with a personal inscription from the author, Gustavo Flavio. He is the first suspect. (Information available at various on-line bookshops). 

The Lost Manuscript (Bloomsbury, 1997), aka Vast emotions and imperfect thoughts (Ecco Press, 1998). Translated by Clifford E. Landers. Originally published under the title Vastas emoções e pensamentos imperfeitos in 1988. 

From the Publisher: What better place to hide a collection of priceless jewels than among the glitter and ostrich feathers of Rio’s Carnival parade? Fonseca’s narrator, a film director, is amazed to find himself suddenly the custodian of such a valuable horde after the nocturnal visit of a young dancer who he later learns from the television news has been murdered. This windfall will allow him to film a story by the famous Russian writer Isaac Babel about whom he is passionate. Before he even has a script in hand, the director finds himself pursued by Brazilian smugglers and flying towards Berlin where a web of skulduggery – literary and political – waits to ensnare him. (Bloomsbury)

The Taker and Other Stories (Open Letter, 2008). Translated by Clifford E. Landers.

From the Publisher: Most widely admired for his short fiction, The Taker and Other Stories is Fonseca’s first collection to appear in English translation, and it ranges across his oeuvre, exploring the sights and sounds of the modern landscape of Rio de Janeiro. Rubem Fonseca’s Rio is a city at war, a city whose vast disparities—in wealth, social standing, and prestige—are untenable. In the stories of The Taker, rich and poor live in an uneasy equilibrium, where only overwhelming force can maintain order, and violence and deception are essential tools of survival. (Open Letter)

Rubem Fonseca at Wikipedia

The Crime Fiction Alphabet 2012 is a Community Meme hosted by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise. By Friday of each week participants try to write a blog post about crime fiction related to the letter of the week. Click HERE to visit the contribution of other participants.

Agosto, Rubem Fonseca

I’ve long been behind this book: Agosto, by Rubem Fonseca. Today I’ve just downloaded on my Kindle at a reasonable price in its original Portuguese. Stay tuned. 

Rubem Fonseca (born 1925) was Brazil’s most highly regarded author of the late 20th century, with a string of critical and popular successes that combined the conventional mystery/thriller format with a sophisticated, polished prose style and a focus on urban alienation.

Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/rubem-fonseca#ixzz1lyYoRnpn

Rubem Fonseca at Wikipedia.

Agosto – Rubem Fonseca (Resumo) in Portuguese

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1545591.Agosto

RBA in Spanish.

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.