Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Benjamin Moser puts Brazilian literature on international stage

“I think it’s generally important for all countries to know about each other, and my thing happens to be Brazil,” Benjamin Moser tells me, as he prepares to make his debut this week at international literary festival FLIP in Paraty, a colonial town two hours south of Rio. The US-born author is also fresh from performing at the Southbank’s Festival Brazil.

Moser is best known for Why This World, a biography of Clarice Lispector, an author herself whose own novels often form part of the curriculum in Brazilian schools. “I started off by studying Chinese at university in the US, but was then told that it was so difficult to learn that it would take about 10 years to read a Chinese newspaper. So, I looked for another language but the [courses for the] more popular languages were already full. That’s how I ended up learning Portuguese,” Moser explains. “I then started studying Brazilian literature and I never got over The Hour of the Star [Lispector’s last novel which closely follows her own experiences and beliefs]. Clarice’s writing has a sacred quality to it.”
His own book was given pride of place in São Paulo’s Livraria Cultura bookshop when I was there a couple of weeks ago, demonstrating Moser’s own influence on Brazilian literature. His pick of a Brazilian author-to-watch is Bernardo Carvalho. “I translated his book Nine Nights and I would really recommend it to the UK market.”
Benjamin Moser is speaking at FLIP on Sunday.

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