With titles translated into several languages and awards such as Casa de Las Américas, Brazilian National Library, and São Paulo Critics Association, Alberto Mussa is one of the most creative writers in Brazilian literature today. Described as “genius” by French Magazine Télérama, Mussa uses his refined language and knowledge of Brazilian popular culture to great effect in his fictional work.
His novel THE RIDDLE OF QAF was published by Anarchasis (France), Kapi Yayinlari (Turkey), Editora Casa de Las Américas (Cuba), Campo das Letras (Portugal), Fabula (Italy), Univers (Romania), CNT (Egypt), Edhasa (Argentina), Delakort (Bulgaria), Aflame (United Kingdom).
THE ESSENTIAL LIBRARY (A BIBLIOTECA ELEMENTAR)
This book is the fifth and final volume of The Mythical Compendium of Rio de Janeiro series, which puts together five crime novels, one for each century of the city’s history. This five-book series (a Pentalogy) results from a literary assumption and concept: The character of a city is given and defined by its fundamental crimes. Rio de Janeiro, 1733. In the middle of the night, on a street nowadays known as Rua da Carioca, in the city center, a man wearing a dress coat, with a gun in his hand, threatens another donning Spanish style tailcoat and high knee boots. They fight. The gun fires. The man wearing the dress coat falls dead. The murder is witnessed by a gipsy woman who has a lot to hide. Among the crimes that happen in this novel, only one really matters; only one summarizes and symbolizes the whole idea of the book.
Contradictorily, it is the only crime that does not happen in the narrative. Alberto Mussa tells his story with expertise and perfect technique, dialoguing with the reader and opining about the characters’ dilemmas without losing the narrator’s point of view. A powerful humorous and ironic voice, he creates his narrative based on an extensive research of the language and vocabulary used in Brazil during the 18th century, the context of the streets of Rio de Janeiro, the slave trade, the gold smuggling and the inquisitorial actions of the period.
Publication/status: Published by Record (Brazil) in August 2018. Film rights sold to Bananeira Filmes. [190 pages]
THE HUMAN HYPOTHESIS (A HIPÓTESE HUMANA)
This book is the fourth volume of The Mythical Compendium of Rio de Janeiro series, which gathers five investigative novels, one for each century of the city’s history. This five book series (a Pentalogy) results from a literary assumption: The history of a city is the history of its crimes. THE HUMAN HYPOTHESIS is set in the XIX century. A married lady shows up dead in her own room, in a rich suburb neighborhood. The father finds the body but doesn’t press charges, as to avoid a scandal. Instead, he calls a private detective, a bastard cousin of the victim, to investigate the crime. This detective, who also worked as a secret agent of the police, was a Brazilian street fighter (Capoeira), a group of people that was marginalized at the time.
The investigation leads to a tour into the complex human geography of the city, exposing conflicts between slaves, slave-owners and free citizens, and among the Afro-Brazilian mixed ethnicities during the times of Imperial Brazil. Like the others novels in the series, the big conflicts in the books have the cosmologic concepts of the south Americans Indians and Africans as backgrounds. The ones that forged the Brazilian culture.
Publication/Status: by Record (Brazil) in May 2017. [176 pages]
THE FIRST STORY OF THE WORLD (A PRIMEIRA HISTÓRIA DO MUNDO)
Rio de Janeiro, 1567. Rio was only two years old when Francisco da Costa, a locksmith, was found dead by eight arrows, near the core of the village. Not long before the crime, the last indigenous villages had been destroyed. That body full of arrows would naturally suggest an attack from the indigenous enemy. But it was not what the Portuguese concluded: in a short period of time, ten Christians, ten citizens of Rio de Janeiro, were considered, singly and each one of them, to be suspects of the first murder in the criminal history of the place which would become the city of Rio de Janeiro. Even more astonishing is that Jerônima Rodrigues, the locksmith’s wife, was appointed as the only cause of the crime, in all ten indictments. THE FIRST STORY OF THE WORLD is the novel which brings this real case back and tries to, retrospectively, solve the crime.
The book retells the city’s early history, gives life to the characters involved in the process and treats the indigenous myths as the key to understand the case.
THE FIRST STORY OF THE WORLD is the third novel in a five-book series on crimes through Rio de Janeiro’s history, from the 16th through the 20th centuries. The novel in the 17th century was released in 2007, the highly praised QUEEN JINGA’S THRONE and the one in the 20th century is THE MASTER OF THE LEFT SIDE.
One of the three finalists for the Oceanos Literature Prize, 2015.
Publication/Status: by Record (Brazil) in March 2014. Film rights sold to Big Bonsai. [240 pages]
THE MASTER OF THE LEFT SIDE (O SENHOR DO LADO ESQUERDO)
Rio de Janeiro, 1913. The secretary of the Brazilian president Hermes da Fonseca is killed in a bedroom at the House of Exchanges, an old mansion that once belonged to the Marquise of Santos, later reformed to become a luxurious brothel and nest for secret lovers. Under the façade of a medical clinic, this peculiar brothel is led by a scientist obsessed by the study of women’s sexual fantasies. During the criminal investigation, a detective from the forensic police, patron of the House, meets and suspects a rascal from the docks and starts a long intellectual duel with him to find out, between the two, who is the greatest seducer and lover.
Recipient of the 2011 editions of prestigious prizes like the National Library Award for Best Novel and the Brazilian Academy of Letters Award for Best Fiction Book, THE MASTER OF THE LEFT SIDE was also honored by the Rio de Janeiro newspaper O Globo as the “best Brazilian book” published in 2011.
Publication/Status: by Record in 2011; Europa (UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand), under the title The Mystery of Rio; E/O (Italy), under the title La Casa degli Scambi, in 2013; by Angle Editorial (Catalonia), under the title La Casa del Intercanvis, in April, 2014; Phebus (France), under the title L’homme du côté gauche, and Funambulisata (Spain), under the title Casa De Los Trueques, both in March, 2015. Sold to Kapi Yayinlari (Turkey), Hohe Publisher (Ethiopia) and Antolog (Macedonia). [304 pages]
Full English translation.
QUEEN JINGA’S THRONE (O TRONO DA RAINHA JINGA)
Rio de Janeiro, 17th century: a wave of inexplicable violence terrifies the city – kidnappings, mutilations, killings. A secret brotherhood of African slaves, propagators of a strange heresy that troubles church authorities, is suspected. At the same time, in Africa, surprising events that seem to evoke the crimes in Brazil are taking place around the enigmatic reigning Queen Jinga. Then Mendo Antunes, a former slave trader and personal friend of the queen, enters the scene. He translates the verses of a mysterious African poem and joins the chief magistrate in investigating the crimes – the solution to which is tied to the mystery of the poem.
About this novel, it has been written: “The men and women brought to us by Alberto Mussa are not just Africans dressed on ‘congos’, ‘ambundos’ or ‘imbangalas’, but they are characters that tell in our ears the different secrets that determine, to them, life and universe.” Over 20.000 copies sold through bookstores and government acquisitions for school libraries.
Publication/Status: by Record (Brazil) in 2007. Sold to Univers (Romania). [132 pages]
THE RIDDLE OF QAF (O ENIGMA DE QAF)
The search of a woman by a man through the desert, THE RIDDLE OF QAF narrates a simple story that fascinates thanks to the talent of the author to wed erudition with the creation of an intense and touching language. In this book, Mussa tells the search for the fictitious solution to the riddle of Qaf, famous in Arabic culture, and builds a novel through different narrative lines. Poetic prose of great beauty interspersed with teachings from a vast and ancient East.
Recipient of awards such as the Cuban Casa de Las Américas and the São Paulo Association of Art Critics, it was published to great acclaim in France and Turkey.
Publication/Status: by Record (Brazil) in 2004; by Anarchasis (France); Kapi Yayinlari (Turkey); Casa de las Américas (Cuba); Campo das Letras (Portugal); Fabula (Italy), Univers (Romania); CNT (Egypt); Edhasa (Argentina); Delakort (Bulgaria); and Aflame (United Kingdom). Sold to AS Varrak (Estonia), NovoVinilo Edicións (Galicia), Ombra GVG (Albania).
Complete English translation, as well as French, Italian, and Spanish. [268 pages]