Sérgio Abranches

Sérgio Abranches


Political scientist with a Ph.D. from Cornell University, Sergio Abranches has a daily op-ed commentary on the Brazilian all-news radio network CBN on Ecopolitics. He co-founded O Eco, an environmental news agency dedicated to training young journalists to report on environmental themes and to facilitate the dialogue between scientists and journalists, with support from Avina and Hewlett Foundation. In 2010, he published COPENHAGEN: BEFORE AND AFTER, a journalistic account of the Copenhagen summit on climate change and global climate change politics.

His story on the Muriquis (Brazilian spider monkeys), primates of the Atlantic rainforest, co-authored with Miriam Leitão, was awarded the SOS Mata Atlântica prize for environmental journalism. He has published a short-story volume and two novels, THE DARK FUR OF FEAR (O PELO NEGRO DO MEDO) and CLARICE’S MYSTERY (QUE MISTÉRIO TEM CLARICE?).


The 1988 political regime in Brazil is completing 30 years in 2018. Four presidents have been elected in very competitive two-round direct elections in this period. The presidential government in Brazil has taken the specific form of a multiparty coalition-based regime very different from the US presidential government, or the French, and Portuguese semi-presidential ones. This book traces the social basis of multiparty coalition Presidentialism in Brazil and looks into its performance during political crises, to see why, although relatively successful in producing decisions and laws it has been relatively unsuccessful in dealing with political crises having the President as their epicenter.

The book updates the pioneering analysis of Brazilian presidential government by the author, who described and explained the model he named coalition presidentialism on an article that became a classic of Brazilian political science, published in 1988.

Publication/Status: by Companhia das Letras (Brazil) in 2018.


The world is in a disruptive transition. Economic models fail to estimate upcoming trends in the economy. There is an ongoing metamorphosis of the productive structure. Political analyses fail to foresee electoral shifts and social turmoil. There is a global disenchantment with representative democracy. Meteorological models are unable to predict extreme climate events that are becoming more frequent, such as long droughts, flooding, snowstorms, and heat waves. This essay is an in-depth look at this great transformation, to see how its different dimensions interact to disrupt existing paradigms, and modes of life.

It analyses three interacting transitions: a global social-structural disruption that affects everybody, everywhere, and has dramatic impacts on society, polity and economy; scientific and technological changes that feed the digital revolution, the emergence of a new medical paradigm, the development of new sources of energy; global warming, climate change, and the new great extinction of biodiversity, disrupting the biosphere, and challenging our way of life.

Publication/Status: by Companhia das Letras (Brazil) in March 2017. [416 pages]


A relatively successful writer, Clarice teaches literature and creative writing at the university. Happy, open-minded, a divorced mother of a young couple, both professionally well established. When her doctor tells her she has a terminal cancer condition, she writes to her son, Jorge, and her daughter, Marina, and starts arranging for her departure, as if she were to leave the country for a long while. She reads the books she loves most, listens to music, spends time with her son and daughter, very quietly, uncomplaining, but her memories are betraying her calm. She starts to remember a child she had forgotten, a stranger that keeps invading her memories and recalling sins and secrets best left buried.

Now she has to deal with them for the last time but decides to keep this hidden past away from Jorge and Marina. After her death, it is their turn to look for them. Following the faint tracks Clarice left of her secret, they find out more than they wanted to know about their mother’s role in the recent history of their country and why she always insisted on the relativity of truth.

Publication/Status: by Globo (Brazil) in 2014. [310 pages]


This is a novel about a couple’s fears and passions. He is a writer and she is a composer. They spend a weekend in the colonial town of Paraty, in Brazil, in the 1980’s. As they walk the centuries-old streets they recall their fears and their passions; their failed relationships, their troubled family lives. The brief span of a weekend expands into a timeless journey as both are overwhelmed by memories of stories they lived or have heard about, plunging into their own lives, their family relations, and their ancestral roots. The story spans decades of Brazilian history: from a rural country to an urban nation; from the hopes of the 1950’s to the repression of the military dictatorship; from women who smothered love and sex to women who have learned to freely savor both.

They walk, they make love, they talk. They exchange their impressions about writing, composing, loving, losing, and being happy. Fear, however, is always stalking them at the corner and revealing dark sides of their disconcerting journey into themselves and each other.

Publication/Status: by Record (Brazil) in 2012.