When provided a splendid opportunity to travel to a faraway exotic location, most people probably focus solely on the opportunity to get away, relax, unwind, and have fun. While all of the mentioned reasons for being excited about a vacation are completely understandable and within good reason, as business culture is very taxing on an employee’s mind and body, do not underestimate another additional feature to traveling to an exotic location: immersing oneself in a totally new and foreign culture.
Brazil is the biggest country in South America and one of the most diverse in the world. With a sophisticated and continuously contradictory history, Brazil has always had a rich literary tradition full of magical realism, family drama, poetry, music, and beautiful works of nonfiction.
But many of Brazil’s literary treasures remain locked in the Portuguese language. Though some of the country’s iconic authors, like Clarice Lispector, Machado de Assis, Paulo Coelho and Jorge Amado, have been competently translated, so much remains reserved for those at or nearing fluency. Despite being the sixth most spoken language in the world, Portuguese is still considered a peripheral language for the translation system.
Quick background on Brazilian literature history
Many says that Brazilian literature only began with the independence of the country in 1822, the previous works belonging to authors of Portuguese origin, settled in Brazil as a result of the successive waves of colonization from the fourteenth to seventeenth centuries. A new movement emerged in the late nineteenth century, realism. Its representatives, Machado de Assis for example, would write about real life and its difficulties. They would also begin to dissect the underpinnings of politics and in a sense become committed to this.
From the twenties, modernism would follow pre-modernism, they would both try to denounce the cultural mentalities of the past through a language “free” of its archaisms. Manuel Bandeira, Oswald de Andrade and more recently Carlos Drummond de Andrade, a major poet of Brazilian Modernism are the most significant representatives.
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Brazilian literature has definitively established its foundations and, like other major cultural countries, offers multiple themes and styles: many authors adopt the path of raw realism (found in Brazilian cinema) to describe the hard life of favelas (Paulo Lins or Fernando Bonassi) or problems in families (Lydia Fagundes Telles or playwright Nelson Rodrigues). The detective novel is also present in the literary landscape with Ruben Fonseca or Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza, and the best-selling novels also have pride of place with Paulo Coelho, the biggest “salesman” abroad, but whose “poor” style and “elusive and mystical” inspiration is often vilified by Brazilian critics.
A city (and four places) in Brazil’s
to taste its literature and culture
Rio de Janeiro is quite undoubtedly The Wonderful City and everyone knows that. But it’s not just the beaches and landscapes that make it truly wonderful. When it comes to culture, there is no shortage of museums, cultural centers and historical sites that are mandatory stops for any visitor. Sit back on your lounge chair with a tasty cocktail or a cup of coffee (or cafézinho if you want to blend in with the locals) and take note of these unmissable sites to do a perfect Brazilian literature tour in Rio.
- The Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading
Stunning. That’s the first world for 10 to 10 visitors of the Royal Portuguese Cabinet od Reading.
rising three-stories above the central study area on each wall, the book collection contained there has created one of the most stunning examples of “library porn” on the planet as well as showing the history and breadth of writing that has come out of Portugal. The doors of this massive library were opened in 1887, bringing a nearly endless collection of Portuguese texts to readers in Rio de Janeiro, then the capital of the Empire of Brazil.
- Writers on the beach
Along Rio’s main shoreline in the South Zone, visitors will find several writers and famous musicians just casually sitting and waiting for you to take a picture. These are famous brass and metal statues of famous Rio residents such as writer Clarice Lispector and poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade. They not only have defined what it means to live in this beautiful city through their writing, but also have literally become part of the city themselves.
- Centro cultural Banco do Brasil
The Cultural Center of Brazil’s Bank is a beautiful art and history museum dedicated to both young artists and household names. Many of the temporary exhibitions are dedicated to Brazilian writers and their influence on the country’s culture. Besides that, there are always modern art exhibits, as well as the permanent collection dedicated to the Brazil’s monetary history.
- Argumento and Travessa bookstores
Argumento, a cozy bookstore at the heart of Leblon, is a must-visit in the Rio literary scene, always hosting author meetups and book release parties. This independent bookstore is a place where you might actually get a glimpse at many Brazilian artists and writers lounging in the café on the back of the store with newly bought books.
Started in 1975 as a ‘resistance bookshop’ dedicated to furthering underground books and censored writers, Travessa has now expanded as far as Europe. Still, its heart will always belong to Rio. The bookshop has several locations spread across the city (Leblon, Ipanema, Centro and Barra da Tijuca) and they’re all charming, cozy and heartwarming ambiences for a good reading.
Book events in Brazil: a must go to any book lover!
Throughout the year, Brazilian authors travel from one book fair to another, as many cities in Brazil have their own literature festivals and book events. All of them have the same goal: to instill the pleasure of reading and, of course, sell books.
FLIP: Literature Festival
The Paraty International Literature Festival is a unique opportunity to listen to highly regarded authors such as J.M. Coetzee, Amos Oz and Robert Crumb in a special setting. This seaside harbor town at the southern coast of Rio de Janeiro State features many attractions: mountains, islands, a beautiful sea, cobbled streets, historical sites, delicious seafood and some of the best cachaça in Brazil.
International Biannual Book Fairs
There are two major book fairs in Brazil. They alternate every year between the cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Completing 40 years in 2023, and scheduled to take place from the 1st to the 10th of September, Rio’s Bienal do Livro announced its first major attraction this year: Iranian author Cassandra Clare, one of the main names in fantasy literature and number 1 on the lists of the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal. The numbers are impressive: the average volume of visitors is around 500k and more than 2 million books are sold at every edition.
At GT DMC, your Brazilian business travel partner, we are committed to ensuring entertainment and cultural understanding go hand in hand. As incentive travel experts, we strongly believe that such endeavors promote cultural understanding among employees. Talk to us and discover how many options Brazil can offer to add value for your team travel experience. Access www.gotogetherdmc.com