By now you may have heard that there’s going to be a group read of João Guimarães Rosa’s The Devil to Pay in the Backlands. The book is hailed as the greatest Brazilian novel of the 20th century, which sounds promising, and the Brazilian equivalent of Ulysses, which, since I’m firmly convinced James Joyce’s novel is one of the worst and most insufferable wastes of paper I’ve ever read in my life, doesn’t make it very reassuring. But I’ll remain optimistic until I open the book.
This event, which will no doubt be etched deeply on the history of book blogging, is being co-hosted by several extraordinary bloggers. To make it more interesting, each person will be reading a copy in a different translation: Richard, from Caravana de Recuerdos, will read it in Spanish; Scott from seraillon in French; Rise from in lieu of a field guide, in English; and I shall have to make do with a Portuguese translation that, alas, I hear is very deficient. A recent and notable addition to our merry polyglot bunch is Caroline from Beauty is a Sleeping Cat,who will read it in German. So that means we still have slots for Italian, Russian, Albanian, Arab, Chinese, etc.
The event starts at the end of May, and everyone is free, and encouraged, to join. Copies in English, I understand, are elusive, so start looking around in libraries and used bookshops. You might get lucky. In preparation I’m also reading some other Brazilian books I plan to write about once we get closer to the date. It’s time we celebrate the great literature of Brazil!