At 90, Sofia Stern lives in Rio de Janeiro and suffers from dementia. To help her memory, her grandson gathers all documents and notes that she wrote along her life recording her youth in Nazi Germany. Together, grandmother and grandson write her biography in the 1930’s. Sofia was Jewish, but not religious or Zionist. She loved Germany and felt perfectly German. Rejected by friends and neighbors, she dived into Hamburg’s underworld and became part of a youth that challenged Hitler dancing jazz and preaching liberty. A beautiful story. However, incoherencies pop up along the narrative, and grandson decides to travel to Germany in search for truth.
There, he gets to know Sofia’s great love, and the man belies the stories that she always told to relatives in Brazil. Who is telling the truth? Is there one truth? Even after a life in common, is it really possible to say that you know someone? The grandson looks for difficult answers. Can he condemn his grandmother? Did she have much choice?
Publication/Status: by Record (Brazil) in June 2016. Sold to Giuntina (Italy), Métailié (France) and Porto (Portugal).
In 1936, Max Kutner is a Polish Jew who works as a shoe repair man in Rio de Janeiro. Fluent in Yiddish, Max is called upon by the Political Police to act as a postal censor, translating the correspondence of other Jews into Portuguese, as the dictatorial Brazilian government suspects a communist conspiracy with “Semitic influence”. If he refuses the task, he might be expelled from the country back to a European continent where Nazi rule cannot be stopped; if he accepts and is discovered by his community, lonely Max will be forever ostracized. Disturbed by terrible dilemmas, he falls in love with a woman he has never met, Hannah, who exchanges letters with her far away sister in Buenos Aires, Fanny. Decided to find Hannah and propose marriage, Max Kutner discovers a real personality which is very far from the one he fell in love with through her letters.
His potential for love and tenderness leads Max to an unexpected succession of events. A beautiful literary novel about identity, Translating Hannah examines the folklore of Jews in the tropics and recovers an important part of the history of the community in the New World.
English sample chapters.
Publication/Status: by Record (Brazil) in 2010, now in its third print; by Aufbau (Germany) and Giuntina (Italy), in 2013, both already in its second print; by Siruela (Spain), Métailié (France), Penn (Israel), De Geus (Holland), and Bukowy Las (Poland) in 2017. [272 pages]