Autran Dourado

Born in the State of Minas Gerais, Waldomiro Freitas Autran Dourado (1926-2012) studied Law, and as a young man he worked in journalism and as a stenographer at the State Assembly. His literary debut was the novel TEIA (WEB), in 1947. Then came SOMBRA E EXÍLIO (SHADOW AND EXILE) e TEMPO DE AMAR (TIME FOR LOVE), both novels receiving important prizes. In 1955, already living in Rio de Janeiro, he published NOVE HISTÓRIAS EM GRUPOS DE TRÊS (NINE STORIES IN GROUPS OF THREE),which won a prize from the National Book Institute.

Autran was the presidential Press Secretary during Juscelino Kubitschek’s government and, in 1961, he stood out with the publication of A BARCA DOS HOMENS (THE BARQUE OF MEN), chosen as the best book of the year by the Brazilian Writers Union.
His literature has a tragic content, but the atmosphere is poetic, and his characters compose primitive types, loners, misfits in the world around them. The novel UMA VIDA EM SEGREDO (A SECRET LIFE) was turned into a movie; ÓPERA DOS MORTOS (THE OPERA OF THE DEAD) was chosen by Unesco for their collection of Representative Works from Universal Literature. He was also awarded with the Brazilian Goethe Prize, the Brazilian Pen-Club Prize and with the Jabuti, one of the most traditional literary awards in Brazil, and his Work was translated into many languages and territories along the years.
After the death of her father, young Biela, 17 years old, already a motherless orphan, starts to live with Conrado, her cousin, who takes her to be with his family in a small town. Constança, Conrado’s wife, tries to adapt Biela to a social life according to their social standing and orders beautiful dresses, teaching Biela how to behave like a rich, well educated lady. But Biela only feels well when she is among the farm workers. She gets close to them after a great heartbreak. According to the author himself, his favorite work, this novel became a movie in 2001.
Movie trailer link: here.

Publication/Status: First edition in 1964 from Editora Civilização Brasileira. Published by Rocco, in 2000; Knopf (US), in 1969; Carl Hanser Verlag (Germany) and Editorial Bruguera (Spain). [132 pages]
A recreation of Seneca’s myth about Phaedra and Hippolytus, the plot of this novel develops in XVIII century Vila Rica, a booming town during the so-called Brazilian Gold Cycle, and is told through three perspectives. João Diogo Galvão, his wife, Malvina, the redhead, and his son Gaspar, Malvina’s stepson, compose an impossible love triangle. The mixed blood Januário is the hand armed by fate to precipitate the final climax. These rivals are, to a large extent, the opposite of each other, and in this way they complete one another. Torn by impossible love, these are classical portraits in agony. Guilty, vengeful, in love, they carry their burdens with the fatalism of the greatest dramatic works.
Publication/Status: Originally published in Brazil in 1974 by Editora Expressão e Cultura, it was republished by Rocco in 1999. Published by Métailié (France) in 1988; by Peter Owen (England) in 1988; and by Alfaguara (Spain) in 1978. In June 2022, HarperCollins-Brazil published a new edition of this canonic novel from Brazilian literature. [322 pages]

Full English translation.
Originally published in 1967 and included by Unesco in a collection of the most representative works from world literature, this is a narrative about the Honório Cota’s family in an old townhouse, which in its baroque architecture, already eroded by time, reveals the fate of its tragically scarred residents. As the years pass by, the house becomes inhabited by the ghosts of Honório Cota’s ancestors, who create death omens out of inanimate objects. After her parents die, Rosalina lives in this oppressive environment, with just her maid, the mute Quiquina, for company.
She spends her days sewing fabric flowers and checking watches that stopped at each death in the family. The house’s routine changes with the arrival of José Feliciano. A handyman, looking for a job from town to town, Juca Passarinho, as he is called, slowly enters the enigmatic house’s universe and Rosalina’s austere life.

Publication/Status: First published in Brazil by Editora Civilização Brasileira in 1967, republished by Rocco in 1999 and released in a new edition by HarperCollins Brasil in October 2022. Published by Peter Owen (England) in 1980; by Adda Korn Editora (Argentina) in 1987. Sold to Carnivora (Greece) and to Koppernik (Netherlands) in a double book deal including THE BARQUE OF MEN. [252 pages]

Full English translation.
Set in the mythic Duas Pontes (Two Bridges), which would return in other books as a synthesis of the introspective universe of the author’s characters, this novel is a trip to the past of the writer João da Fonseca Ribeiro. As João goes back to his hometown and meets old relatives and companions from his childhood, he puts together a jigsaw puzzle of what was lived and what was imagined, completing and expanding memory fragments which are his early years’ narrative. Like in a Bildungsroman, the reader goes on learning how João became what he is, his harsh route to the discovery of sexuality, friendship and literature.
Hookers, farm workers, friends, old relatives cross João’s path, who starts to see the trace under the embroidery which is his own life story.

Publication/Status: Published by Rocco (Brazil) in 1999; Penguin (England) in 1984; Alfaguara (Spain) in 1978; Métailé (France) in 1994; Gyldendal (Norway) in 1992.