“As if my personal issues were not enough, it was difficult to dedicate myself to literary daydreams without being affected by recent events in our country." This phrase on the first page of "Essa Gente" is in a letter from the protagonist, the writer Manuel Duarte. But it sounds like a confession from the author himself, Chico Buarque.
He goes on to apologize for bothering his publisher "at a time when the economic crisis does not seem to have cooled as expected." He regrets the conditions of the publishing market. It ends by promising a novel that will bring great joy - which, well, does not accomplish much in reading, which carries the usual anguish of Chico's literature.
While his novels usually take place in indefinite times or the distant past, this Chico Buarque has both feet in 2019.
It is the first book that the 75-year-old author has written after receiving the Camões Prize in May, the highest distinction for a Portuguese-speaking writer. It is also his first to be published under the rule of Jair Bolsonaro.
Facts that intertwine in the president's insinuated refusal to sign the tribute, which Chico promptly rebuts in his Instagram account - "Bolsonaro's non-signature in the diploma is for me a second Camões award."
Translated by Kiratiana Freelon