José J. Veiga

José J. Veiga

JOSÉ J. VEIGA

Considered the master and greatest name of Brazilian surrealism, José J. Veiga was born in Goiás, Brazil, in 1915, and took his degree in law from Universidade do Brasil, in Rio, in 1944. In 1940, he started working as a journalist and editor. Following World War II, he went to London to work for BBC radio, and there he stayed until 1950. Upon his return to Rio, he became an editor for O Globo and later for Tribuna da Imprensa, both afternoon newspapers.

He worked for Brazilian Reader’s Digest, where he was the editor for Condensed Books. In 1958, Veiga’s literary debut, PLATIPLANTO’S LITTLE HORSES, shared the Monteiro Lobato Short Story Prize with two other candidates, and in 1960 the same collection won the Fábio Prado Prize. Already a classic in Brazilian literature, José J. Veiga died in 1999. Companhia das Letras acquired rights to his complete works, which started to be republished in 2015.

THE THREE TRIALS OF MANIREMA (A HORA DOS RUMINANTES)

In this novel – a mysterious puzzling tale, perfectly told –, a small town is stricken by the strangest of plagues: the sudden visitation, nearby, of silent, self-sufficient men. No one knows who the strangers are, where they came from, or what they want. But with every passing day, something unaccountable happens. The once-carefree town is overcome with tension as the Carter, the storekeeper, the blacksmith, a courting couple, among others, are victimized. Confused and frightened, some people become secretive, some taciturn. A few stand their ground in the face of pressure and provocation, but most bend or reverse their values. Then, from the stranger’s campsite, packs of howling dogs spread through the streets and gardens, invading houses, chasing down inhabitants. They bark, snarl, and whine for days. When, as if by magic, the dogs disappear, hundreds of plundering oxen descend upon the town. Houses are besieged, residents corralled, the land and air poisoned with excrement.

Suddenly – as if obeying a silent order – they disappear. Dogs, oxen, the townspeople’s self-destructive reaction: Are the mysterious strangers responsible? Are the animal invaders mere instruments of oppression or are they the men themselves in another guise? No one knows, and no one knows why the visitors themselves leave as suddenly and unpredictably as they arrived. A novel or an apologue? The reader must decide.

Full English translation.

Publication/Status: Originally published by Civilização Brasileira (Brazil) in 1966. Republished by Companhia das Letras (Brazil) in 2015. Published by Alfred A. Knopf (USA) in 1970; by Atheneum (Holland) in its collection of classics, and by Deli Dolu (Turkey) in 2017. 

THE MISPLACED MACHINE AND OTHER STORIES (A ESTRANHA MÁQUINA EXTRAVIADA)

The narratives that make up THE MISPLACED MACHINE AND OTHER STORIES combine the element of terror with refining touches of tenderness, lightness, and lyricism. Some are poignant, some macabre, some ironically funny, but all imaginatively interweave mystery and fantasy with reality.

Full English translation.

Publication/Status: Originally published by Civilização Brasileira (Brazil). Republished by Companhia das Letras (Brazil) in 2015. Published by Alfred A. Knopf (USA) in 1970.

PLATIPLANTO’S LITTLE HORSES (OS CAVALINHOS DE PLATIPLANTO)

José J. Veiga’s literary debut. It is a collection of 12 short stories on reminiscences, most of them about childhood, in which the narrator involves himself emotionally with great intensity. They are fables on the dissolution of the world in its structure, while the characters become deeply immersed in the absurd of the narrative.

Winner of Paulo Prata’s Award and Monteiro Lobato Short Story Prize.

Publication/Status: Originally published by Civilização Brasileira (Brazil) in 1959. Republished by Companhia das Letras (Brazil) in 2015. [160 pages]

SHADOWS OF BEARDED KINGS (SOMBRAS DE REIS BARBUDOS)

This novel tells the story of the people from a small town in the countryside, oppressed by the powerful company located there. The company enforces absurd behavior rules on the population, driving the inhabitants into panic and fear and triggering a mood of chaos and distrust in the village.

Publication/Status: Originally published by Civilização Brasileira (Brazil) in 1972. Relaunched by Companhia das Letras (Brazil) in 2015. Published by Atheneum (Holland) in its collection of classics. Sold to Novovinilo (Galicia). [144 pages]