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Sao Bernardo


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A masterwork about backcountry life by one of Brazil's most celebrated novelists.

About the Author

Graciliano Ramos (1892-1953) was a writer, politician, and journalist. He spent most of his life in Palmeira dos ndios, in northeast Brazil, where he owned a general store and served as the mayor. In 1936, Ramos was arrested and imprisoned on a penal island. He was most likely suspected of being a Communist. After his release from prison, he published his most famous novel, Barren Lives. Sarah Ann Wells, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is a scholar of Brazilian literature and cinema. Padma Viswanathan's debut novel, The Toss of a Lemon, has been published in eight countries and was a finalist for several prizes. Her second novel, The Ever After of Ashwin Rao, was a national bestseller in Canada and was short-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Her short fiction and nonfiction work has been published in several outlets, including Granta, the Boston Review, Elle (Canada), and Guernica. She teaches creative writing at the University of Arkansas.


Shortlisted for the UK Society of Authors' TA First Translation Prize

"The complexities of life in rural Brazil come sharply into focus in Sao Bernardo. Nearly a hundred years after its publication, the funny, ruthless narrator of this novel is as fascinating and relevant as any narrator being written today." -Idra Novey

"I was swept up by the humor, cadence, beautiful weirdness-and above all the voice, relentless and a little nuts, of Sao Bernardo." -Peter Orner

"Viswanathan, through her soulful translation, breathes new life into Ramos's slangy, unvarnished, beguilingly funny prose. Honorio's voice might be gruff, but it also sings." -Eric Puchner

"If we were to take stock of Brazilian writers from the first half of the twentieth century-from among those writers who produced the most relevant parts of their oeuvre in the first half of the twentieth century-and ask which writer has had the greatest impact and influence on the way Brazilian writers write today, I have no doubt that the name of Graciliano Ramos would make the top of the list." -Paolo Scott, Asymptote

"This new translation of Sao Bernardo from the Brazilian Portuguese by Canadian writer Padma Viswanathan is as much a reiteration as it is a refashioning. . . . Viswanathan has made a precious contribution to the body of English-language literature, adding to it the vibrant voice of one [of] the most important figures of 20th-century Brazilian letters." -Arthur Ivan Bravo, The Los Angeles Review of Books

"Ribeyro . . . is mildly Borgesian in approach, both stylish and imaginative. . . . Ramos' metier . . . is a kind of gnarled subtlety and rueful wisdom that lends a quirky, canny element to his appealing story." -Paddy Kehoe, RTE

"Graciliano Ramos's Sao Bernardo is a quick read that grabbed me from the first paragraph. . . . Honorio is a fascinating character, and Ramos beautifully renders him through Honorio's own elisions and incapacity to articulate." -The Mookse and Gripes

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