Brazilian Literature in Translation Series

Published by: Tagus Press at UMass Dartmouth

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Crimes of August

A Novel

Rubem Fonseca

Rubem Fonseca's Crimes of August offers the first serious literary treatment of the cataclysmic events of August 1954, arguably the most turbulent month in Brazilian history.

A rich novel, both culturally and historically, Crimes of August tells two stories simultaneously. The first is private, involving the well-delineated character of Alberto Mattos, a police officer. The other is public, focusing on events that begin with the attempted assassination of Carlos Lacerda, a demagogic journalist and political enemy of President Getulio Vargas, and culminate in Vargas's suicide on August 24,1954. Throughout this suspenseful novel, deceptively couched as a thriller, Fonseca interweaves fact and fiction in a complex, provocative plot. At the same time, he re-creates the atmosphere of the 1950s, when Rio de Janeiro was Brazil's capital and the nexus of political intrigue and corruption.

Mattos is assigned to solve the brutal murder of a wealthy entrepreneur in the aftermath of what appears to be a homosexual liaison. An educated and introspective man, and one of the few in his precinct not on the take from the "bankers" of the illegal lottery, Mattos suffers from alienation and a bleeding ulcer. His investigation puts him on a dangerous collision course with the conspiracy to depose Vargas, the novel's other narrative thread. The two overlap at several points, coming to their tragic end with the aged politician's suicide and Mattos's downfall.

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The Only Happy Ending for a Love Story Is an Accident

J. P. Cuenca

Set in Tokyo, in a not-too-distant future, this novel tells the story of Shunsuke, a salaryman, and his complicated relationship with his mad poet father, Mr. Okuda, whose hobby is spying on his son. When Shunsuke falls in love with Iulana, a maelstrom of jealousy is set in motion that culminates in abduction and death. In poetic and imaginative language, Cuenca subtly interweaves reality and fiction, creating a dreamlike world whose palpable characters, including a silicone doll, leave a lasting impression. Written like a crime novel, full of odd events and reminiscent of Haruki Murakami’s work, this disturbing, kaleidoscopic story of voyeurism and perversion draws the reader in from the very first page.

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Winning the Game and Other Stories

Rubem Fonseca

In these seventeen stories by one of Brazil's foremost living authors, Fonseca introduces readers--with unsurpassed candor and keenness of observation--to a kaleidoscopic, often disturbing world. A hunchback sets his lascivious sights on seducing a beautiful woman. A wealthy businessman hires a ghost writer, with unexpected results. A family of modern-day urban cannibals celebrates a bizarre rite of passage. A man roams the nocturnal streets of Rio de Janeiro in search of meaning. A male ex-police reporter writes an advice column under a female pseudonym. A prosperous entrepreneur picks up a beautiful girl in his Mercedes only to discover his costly mistake. A loser elaborates a lethal plan to become, in his mind, a winner.

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