João Almino

João Almino

JOÃO ALMINO

João Almino, whose novels have been highly praised by Brazilian critics, has received some of Brazil’s most distinguished literary awards. THE FIVE SEASONS OF LOVE, translated into Spanish, English, and Italian, received the Casa de Las Américas 2003 Literary Award. FREE CITY received the Zaffari & Bourbon Literary Award for the best novel published in Brazil from May 2009 to May 2011, was shortlisted for both the Jabuti and the Portugal-Telecom awards, was published in French by Éditions Métailié and in English by Dalkey Archive Press.

João Almino has been described as “one of the most brilliant authors of his generation” (Folha de S. Paulo) and “one of our country’s best authors”. From his first novel, critics have recognized the quality and inventiveness of his language. In the words of Mexican writer Alberto Ruy Sanchez, “he is a unique writer, who knows how to get across profound ideas without letting them suck the life out of his stories”. This year João Almino was elected a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters.

THE LAST TWIST OF THE KNIFE (ENTRE FACAS, ALGODÃO)

According to critic Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, “more perhaps than any of its acclaimed predecessors, João Almino’s new novel, his masterpiece to date, inscribes itself powerfully into the early twenty-first century moment of its genre’s history.” In THE LAST TWIST OF THE KNIFE, a lawyer who is nearing the end of his career, living in the outskirts of Brasília, abandons his wife and chases after the phantoms and fantasies of his impoverished childhood when he buys his Godfather’s share of the farm in his Northeastern home state. He is in search of an old love, of vengeance for the assassination of his father, and of success.

A panorama of family drama, sentimental education, jealousy, greed, and political disputes draws itself into his failing memory as he makes his way home. After arriving, stuck between the contrast of old and new, he comes across surprises that not only change his future but also his past, leading him to legal confrontations. Who is he really? Whose son? Who was actually responsible for the assassination that he came to revenge? His return to Brasilia gives way to dramatic situations that bring him a new perspective on what was and will be his life.

Publication/Status: By Record (Brazil) in October 2017.

ENIGMAS OF SPRING (ENIGMAS DA PRIMAVERA)

Enigmas of Spring tells a beautiful and well-crafted story that takes place between 2011 and 2013, excelling in its language and skillful dialogue and in the fresh voice of a 20-year-old Brazilian who journeys from Brasilia to Madrid and Granada while facing the dilemmas and tensions of the contemporary world, the role of virtual realities, solitude, and the fragility of social relations. A combination of fiction and reality, memory, and imagination, the tale focuses on the crises of the Arab world, Islam in its various expressions, and the themes of tolerance and intolerance, while revisiting an older story, that of the Arab Sultanate of Granada.

At its center lie the various youth rebellions, including those of the Arabs, the “indignados”, and the Brazilian demonstrations in June 2013.

Finalist for the São Paulo Literature Prize 2016.

Publication/Status: by Record (Brazil) in 2015 and by Dalkey Archive Press (USA) in February 2016.

FREE CITY (CIDADE LIVRE)

Six months after his father’s death, the narrator, João, recounts the conversation he had with his dying father, during seven nights, between four dirty white walls (which by the end of the book the reader will understand are the walls of a prison). João’s narrative is a way of accomplishing what his father had failed to do: to recount the founding and construction of a city, Brasília, between 1956 and 1960. His book will be about foundation – and about the creation of the narrative itself. As he narrates his conversation with his father he narrates his own memories of childhood when he had sexual fantasies of his two aunts in the Free City, the village that was built to receive the workers, the engineers, the businessmen, the mystic sects, and adventurers during the time of the construction of Brasília. He will also confront his father’s confessions with the papers his father had buried the day of the possible death of a worker and friend of the family, Valdivino, papers that João recently unearthed.

Among the stories revealed in the conversations between son and father, the reader will know that the Prophetess Iris Quelemém, the woman in Valdivino’s life, is, in fact, Lucrecia, the now former prostitute, with whom the narrator’s father once had an intense affair. João tries to understand what might have happened to the worker Valdivino on the day after Brasília’s inauguration.

FREE CITY won the Zaffari & Bourbon Literary Award for the best novel published between May 2009 and May 2011 and was shortlisted for both Jabuti and Portugal-Telecom literary awards.

Publication/Status: by Record (2010), Métailié (France) coming out under the title Hôtel Brasilia (2012), Dalkey Archive Press (US).

THE FIVE SEASONS OF LOVE (AS CINCO ESTAÇÕES DO AMOR)

North American critic Marjorie Perloff defines this novel as “brilliant and thought-provoking” To fulfill a pact made during her student days, fifty-five-year old Ana Kauffman plans a party to celebrate the new millennium. As old friends resurface and the countdown to the new century draws near, Ana’s past undergoes a series of unexpected revisions – beginning with the arrival of Berta, the newly minted post-op persona of Ana’s former boyfriend Norberto. Set amidst the chaos of contemporary Brasilia, a place where even the most basic human affairs – love, friendship, sex, and work – can take unlikely shapes, Ana’s story is both relentlessly modern and profoundly timeless. The book covers a period of three decades. As expressed by North American poet Michael Palmer, “in a work at once of great concentration and vast scope, João Almino has produced a vividly detailed and historically resonant multiple portraits.

Pulsing across the background is the entire ungraspable arc of Brazilian history from the time of the dictatorship to the millennium.” Translated into English, Spanish and Italian, awarded with Prize Casa de Las Américas (Cuba), in 2003, and much commented and reviewed (see reviews in www.joaoalmino.com), THE FIVE SEASONS OF LOVE is an extraordinary novel by a writer at the height of his powers.

Publication/Status: by Record (Brazil), Host Publications (USA), Alfaguara (Mexico), Corregidor (Argentina), Il Sirento (Italy). Full English translation.

THE BOOK OF EMOTIONS (O LIVRO DAS EMOÇÕES)

“Almino succeeds in capturing the essences of these photographs – loneliness, and longing – through language, and readers will sympathize with the artist who never receives the love or respect he seeks and deserves.”
– Publishers Weekly

“An existentialist in the manner of Clarice Lispector, Almino writes from the confines of his narrator’s consciousness in a blunt, unadorned prose.”
– BookForum

In a future Brazil, a blind photographer considers a sequence of his old photographs. Isolating in his memory the moments in which they were taken and attempting to analyze them much like a lens, he envisions “a haiku stripped of rhetoric that captures only what is in front of the camera.” Yet, deprived of his sight, the photographer now must reconstruct his experiences as a series of affective snapshots. The result, then, is not only the description of a remembered image but also of the emotional memory the image evokes.

João Almino here gives us a trenchant portrait of an artist trying to close the gap between objective vision and sentimental memory, leafing through a catalog of his accomplishments and failures in a violent, artificial, universal city, and trying to reassemble the puzzle that was his life.

Publication/Status: by Record (Brazil) and Dalkey Archive Press (USA). Full English translation.