Project Description

José Saramago Prize 2003Adriana Lisboa


Adriana Lisboa was born in Rio de Janeiro. With degrees in Music and Literature, she is the author of ten widely translated fiction books, among which five novels, a collection of flash fiction, and books for children. She was hailed as a new star of Brazilian literature after the publication of her 2001 novel SYMPHONY IN WHITE (“Sinfonia em Branco”), which received the prestigious José Saramago Prize. In 2007, she was selected by the Hay Festival/Bogotá World Book Capital as one of the 39 highest profile Latin American writers under the age of 39. She has also been longlisted for the International Impac Dublin Literary Award 2015 with her novel Azul-Corvo.

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Adriana Lisboa© Julie Harris


All Saints

All Saints in Rio de Janeiro, a hot Sunday afternoon. Mauro, a nine year-old boy, suffers a shock in a swimming pool and dies before anyone can help him. As they grow up, his sister Vanessa and his schoolmate André begin a relationship that soon surpasses friendship. They start a life together, but a shadow follows them: a secret kept by André’s sister, Isabel, who is also in love with Vanessa. Decades after the accident, in an act of desperate revenge, she reveals that it was André who pushed Mauro into the pool.
Alone now, working as biologist in New Zealand, Vanessa is an outsider wherever she goes. Revisiting her memories from an almost mythical Rio, she knows she is eternally linked to André. But can she remake her love story with him? Written in poetic and precise language, All Saints (“Todos os Santos”) is a brilliant novel about regret and loss, and about forgiveness.


All Saints



When David discovers that he has terminal brain cancer, he decides to put his affairs in order. Then he meets Alex, a young mother who had an affair with a married man, and his fast-dwindling life gets a new sense of purpose. As the two of them slowly get closer, they learn that they are both descendants of immigrants: Alex’s grandmother and mother come from Vietnam, David’s parents are from Mexico and Brazil. While David, not wanting to die in Chicago, makes plans for his last journey to Hanói, the place where Alex’s mother was born, Alex in turn still hopes for a miracle. In her characteristic poetic style, Adriana Lisboa insightfully takes up the topic of the finiteness of life and how people deal with it, creating a moving story with very real characters.





In her novel Crow-Blue (“Azul-Corvo”), Adriana Lisboa tells an unusual road-story about growing-up and the search for one’s roots, simultaneously allowing for an intriguing glimpse at the life of the Brazilian guerillas. When her mother dies, thirteen-year-old Vanja moves to her stepfather in the US, an ex-guerilla from Brazil where he gained a reputation for being a relentless fighter. There she goes looking for her biological father, following her mother’s footsteps and finding out who she really is. The novel has been longlisted for the International Impac Dublin Literary Award 2015.




Symphony in White

Symphony in White (“Sinfonia em Branco”), the internationally-acclaimed novel by prize-winning Brazilian author Adriana Lisboa, follows the journeys – literal, chronological, and metaphysical – of two sisters raised in the apparently tranquil backlands of Brazil in the sixties and educated in teeming Rio de Janeiro in the seventies. Sisters who share dark secrets that affect every step of their way as they finally face their past so that they might at last embrace their future. It is the moving story that covers four decades of a family where ugly truths are kept hidden, secret, unspoken, paralleling the years of the Brazilian dictatorship when everyone knew that atrocities were being committed, but no one dared speak of them. As the complex but seemingly simple narrative shifts back and forth in space and time, each new revelation imparts added dimensions and more depth to the characters as well as to the narrative, which little by little builds up to unveil astonishing revelations and a shattering climax. But Symphony in white is much more than compelling storytelling or a novel of Brazilian manners and culture. Lisboa also makes numerous references to music and art throughout the novel, which in itself is not unlike a symphony where each character’s storyline represents a different instrument of a symphonic score, resulting in a dramatic and powerful work of great beauty and harmony. Add to that the pure pleasure of Lisboa’s eloquent metaphors, her lyrical, poetic prose, and her unexpected word choices, which allow the reader to examine the dark abysses of the human soul within a framework as delicate as the flight of a butterfly. Like all great literature, Symphony in White is a book of universal appeal that transcends all geographic borders.


Symphony in white



In Rakushisha Adriana Lisboa invites us to discover, alongside her characters, the simplicity and beauty of the poetry of Matsuo Basho, a pioneer of the Haikai style: the art of saying the most possible with the minimum of words. Rakushisha is a journey to Japan seen through the eyes of two Brazilians: Haruki and Celina.

Starting from a fleeting encounter in a metro station in Rio de Janeiro, where both live, they end up taking their furthest ever trip from home: they travel together to Japan. Due to the isolation caused by the cultural diffence, this adventure ultimately becomes an interior journey, a journey to the untouched feelings and secrets of each one. Through the alternate narration of Haruki and Celina emerge Basho’s haikais, and thus the reader discovers Basho’s translator in Brazil is Haruki’s great unrequited love, and that Celina’s sad eyes conceal a great tragedy in her life. Rakushisha is a delicate novel, to be grasped with both hands, as the Japonese hold their objects.


Colombine’s Kiss

In Colombine’s Kiss (“Um Beijo de Colombina”) Teresa, a talented writer from Rio de Janeiro, has rented a house near the beach, where she spends her days writing or sleeping, and at the end of the afternoon she goes out to swim in the sea. One day, Teresa does not return, and her body is not found. Back in the house, her boyfriend was waiting for her, finding a poem by the great Brazilian poet, Manuel Bandeira: ‘In the waves of the beach, in the waves of the sea, I want to be happy, I want to drown’. Colombine’s Kiss is narrated by him, and, as if to put his feelings in order, he dives into the universe she left behind, thus getting to know better the woman he lived with and coming to understand his feelings for her. ‘Love is a million small things’ is a line that appears in this novel and sums it up perfectly. The narration is light of touch and sensitive, patient and free of anguish. The final chapter of the book has a surprise in store for the reader, shedding a new light on all that has gone before, enclosing one fiction within another.


The Mermaid and the Butterfly Catcher

On the seashore, a mermaid and a butterfly catcher fall in love. So goes the story The Mermaid and the Butterfly Catcher (“A Sereia e o Ccaçador de Borboletas“) about this one magic meeting, because the butterfly catcher, who in fact was never hunting butterflies but just observing and admiring them, does not know how to swim or fly, and the mermaid cannot leave the water. The destiny of some Portuguese sailors, who have been on a voyage for three hundred years, depends on a repeat meeting between the mermaid and the butterfly catcher. Fortunately, they do meet up again, because a butterfly has taught the butterfly catcher to fly, so enabling he and the mermaid to meet once more, at which point the sailors consider their sea voyage to be over.


The Mermaid and the Butterfly Catcher


The Heart Sometimes Stops Beating

A moving and poetic novel about the fragility of people’s destiny, The Heart Sometimes Stops Beating (“O Coração às Vezes Para de Bater”) is the unburdening of a 15-year-old boy who writes letters to a hospitalized friend. Coming from different social backgrounds, the two are cariocas of Rio de Janeiro and share a passion for skateboarding. In short, fast and precise flashes, the protagonist makes an inventory of the joys and sorrows of a teenager today, including difficulties with his family, social relations, and the discovery of love in a city like Rio de Janeiro.


All Saints (“Todos os Santos”)
Rio de Janeiro: Alfaguara 2019, 147 p.
English sample translation available
Spanish sample translation published in the Magazine of the Casa de las Américas, Cuba

Rio de Janeiro: Alfaguara 2013, 240 p.
English sample translation by Alison Entrekin available
Argentina: Edhasa (Spanish world rights) 2015 · France: Métailié 2015 · Italy: Nuova Frontiera 2014

Crow-Blue (“Azul-Corvo”)
Rio de Janeiro: Rocco 2010, 219 p.
Longlisted for the International Impac Dublin Literary Award 2015
Argentina: Edhasa 2011 (Spanish world rights) · China: Central Compilation Translation Press · France: Métailié 2013 · Italy: Nuova Frontiera 2013 · Norway: Tigerforlaget 2015 · Poland: Rebis 2019 · Portugal: Quetzal 2012 · Serbia: Clio 2012 · UK: Bloomsbury 2013 · Ukraine: Calvaria

Rio de Janeiro: Rocco 2007, 132 p.
Longlisted for the International Impac Dublin Literary Award 2013
Cuba: Casa de las Américas · Italy: Angelica Editore 2010 · Portugal: Quetzal 2009 · Romania: Univers 2014 · USA: Texas Tech University Press 2011

Colombine’s Kiss (“Um Beijo de Colombina”)
Rio de Janeiro: Rocco 2003, 135 p.
Portugal: Temas e Debates 2005 · Sweden: Boca Pocky 2005

Symphony in White (“Sinfonia em Branco”)
Rio de Janeiro: Rocco 2001, Alfaguara 2013, 320 p.
Albania: Dudaj · China: Central Compilation Translation Press · Croatia: Hena-Com · Egypt: El Arabi 2014 · France: Métailié 2009 · Germany: Aufbau 2013 · Italy: Angelica Editore 2008 · Mexico: Alfaguara 2009 · Poland: Rebis 2016 · Portugal: Temas e Debates 2003 · Romania: Univers 2013 · Slovenia: Modrijan Zalozba 2017 · Turkey: Kirmizi Kedi 2014 · USA: Texas Tech University Press 2010

The Threads of Memory (“Os Fios da Memória”)
Rio de Janeiro: Rocco 1999, 221 p.

The Success (“O Sucesso”)
Rio de Janeiro: Alfaguara 2016

Calligraphies (“Caligrafias”)
Rio de Janeiro: Rocco 2004, 92 p.

A King Without Majesty (“Um Rei sem Majestade”)
Rio de Janeiro: Rocco 2018, 31 p.
Illustration by Lúcia Brandão

The Mermaid and the Butterfly Catcher (“A Sereia e o Caçador de Borboletas”)
Rio de Janeiro: Rocco 2009, 46 p.
Illustration by Rui de Oliveira
Complete English and Spanish translation availaible

Japanese Folk Tales (“Contos Populares Japoneses”)
Rio de Janeiro: Rocco 2008, 86 p.
Illustration by Janaina Tokitaka
Highly recommended by the Brazilian International Board on Books for Young People – IBBY
Italy: Graphe 2013

The Heart Sometimes Stops Beating (“O Coração às Vezes Para de Bater”)
São Paulo: Publifolha 2007, 79 p.
Argentina: Santillana 2016 · Switzerland: La Joie de Lire 2009 (French language)

Language of Rags (“Língua de Trapos”)
Rio de Janeiro: Rocco 2005, 36 p.
Highly recommended by the Brazilian International Board on Books for Young People – IBBY

Brazil 25 – 2000-2015 (”Brésil 25 – 2000-2015“)
France: Métailié 2015

Stories in Transit: Brazilian Narrative Anthology (“Cuentos en tránsito. Antología de narrativa brasileña”)
Argentina: Alfaguara 2014

Other Carnivals: New Stories from Brazil
UK: Full Circle 2013

Microcontos. Mini Stories from Brazil (”Microcontos. Minigeschichten aus Brasilien“)
Germany: dtv 2013

Popcorn unterm Zuckerhut. Junge brasilianische Literatur
Germany: Wagenbach 2013

Brazil Narrates: Sounds of Steps (”Brasilien berättar: Ljud av steg“)
Sweden: Tranan 2011

Dicionário Amoroso da Língua Portuguesa
Portugal: Casa da Palvra 2009
(Ed. By Marcelo Moutinho)

Antología de cuento latinoamericano
Colombia: Ediciones B 2007

Bogotá 39
(Almendros) Bogotá: Ediciones B 2007, 413 p.

Spain: Círculo de Lectores 2013

Lusofônica – La nuova narrativa in lingua portughese
Italy: La Nuova Frontiera 2006

25 Mulheres que Estão Fazendo a Nova Literatura Brasileira (org. Luiz Ruffato)
Brazil: Record 2004

India: Poetrywalla, 2019, 82 p.

Pequena Música
São Paulo: Iluminuras 2018, 96 p.

Lavar a Alma-Soul Washing
Berkeley: Center for Latin American Studies 2014

Parte da Paisagem
São Paulo: Iluminuras 2014, 120 p.