- Joel Rufino Dos SantosBrazil ⋆ Author
Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1941, Joel Rufino dos Santos boasts an exciting and eventful career. As a young man, he was inspired by the Bible, comic books, and his grandmother, who was a popular storyteller. Reading was an immensely important activity in his household, and given the fact that he was born during World War II to an outspoken socialist father, political literature was a topic of much discussion. His father's political leanings, along with his family's connection to literature, impacted his later interest in history and sociology, and during the political upheaval in Brazil in the early sixties, he took courses in History at the Faculdade Nacional de Filosofia. During his time as a student, Rufino co-authored a volume of Brazilian historiography, and was exiled to Bolivia and Chile until 1965 for his political views. Upon returning he earned his PhD in Communication and Culture.
A professor and researcher of history, Rufino often immerses his readers in rich historical narrative, incorporating Brazilian folklore and cultural narratives, especially those originating in Africa. He adapts these stories to suit the child reader with grace and attention to detail, and uses humor to evoke meaning. Rufino is passionate about informing his child readers of the political, social, and historical backgrounds of Brazilian culture, and does so in a way that is both approachable and exciting. He does not target one particular age group—Rufino masterfully writes texts for each stage of youth, and is able to make connections with young people from differing cultural and historical backgrounds. He takes on delicate issues such as racism, arranged marriage, political strife, and labor exploitation with sensitivity and expertise.
As both an essayist and a children's writer, Rufino has earned many awards and distinctions. Most recently, he won the Jabuti Best Book of the Year Award for O barbeiro e o judeu da prestação contra o sargento da motocicleta [The Barber and the Peddler Jewish Man Against the Sergeant on the Motorcycle]. He also won the Orígenes Lessa's Best Book for Young People Award in 2000, and was on the IBBY Honor List in 1981. He writes novels, short stories, and magazine articles for children, which have been translated into various languages, including English, French, Japanese, and Arabic.