Luiz Ruffato [ Brasil ]
Luiz Ruffato was born in 1961 to a poor immigrant family in Cataguases in the Minas Gerais region in the south-east of Brazil. His mother, a laundress, is of Italian origin, and his father, a popcorn-seller, of Portuguese. Ruffato developed an early interest in literature, but followed his parents' requests and initially trained as a shop assistant. He subsequently moved to Juiz de Fora, working as a mechanic during the day and studying Journalism at the Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora at night. After becoming a journalist, he moved to São Paulo, where he also ventured into literary writing, his working class origins providing him with particular inspiration.
Ruffato made his literary debut with the collection of short stories »Histórias de remorsos e rancores« (1998; t: Stories of remorse and rancour), followed by the collection entitled »os sobreviventes« (2000; t: the survivors). The work was awarded a special mention by the jury of the Premio Literario Casa de las Americas, from Cuba. His first novel »Eles eram muitos cavalos« (2001; t: There were many horses) was praised by critics for revitalising Brazilian literature. Here he presents a panorama of daily life in the metropolis of São Paolo, which is shown to be progressing separately in fast and slow lanes. On the one hand it is a city of the affluent, where there are luxury cars and status villas in chic districts, whereas on the other hand it is the home of the impoverished masses who struggle to survive from day to day. The title of the book refers to a poem by the deceased Brazilian poet Cécilia Meireles: »eles eram muitos cavalos / mas ninguém mais lembra / de sua pelagem, de sua cor, de sua origem« (There were many horses / but nobody remembers their names, nor their skin, nor their origin). This work consists of a series of stories, personal notes, statements, reflections and snapshots from 69 episodes or chapters which all take place on a single day. Newspaper articles, menus, sales brochures and small ads are utilised, resulting in a juxtaposition of various stylistic forms. An overt emphasis on the visual gives the book a filmic character with a sense of authenticity emerging from its rapid cuts. For this work, Ruffato was awarded the prestigious Prêmio Machado de Assis of the National Library, and the Prêmio Associação Paulista de Críticos de Arte. The novel has also been published in Italy, France and Portugal.
Following the publication of his collection of poems »As máscaras singulares« (2002; t: The unique masks) Ruffato is currently working on a work entitled »Inferno provisorio«, planned as a cycle of five separate volumes documenting the industrialisation of Brazil from the 1950's. The first two parts, »Mamma, son tanto felice« (2005; t: Mama, I'm so happy) and »O mundo inimigo« (2005; t: The inimical world), are already available. The third one, »Vista parcial da noite« (t: Partial view of the night) will be published in October 2006. The author lives in São Paulo.
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