Note from BW of Brazil: It’s no secret that the presence of Afro-Brazilians has been minuscule in numerous areas of Brazilian society. If every area of invisibility of black Brazilians were to be represented as a leak on a large ship, the black population would have sunken decades ago due to all of the holes in the vessel. But in recent years, black Brazilians have been slowly trying to plug those leaks in representation. And besides black theater productions, black expos, black YouTube, etc., black literature seems to be another genre in which the community is demanding to know more about itself and the Afro-Brazilian authors who are trying to show that the experience of white Brazilians does not completely represent the full range of the Brazilian experience.
In the state of Minas Gerais, journalist Etiene Martins is doing her part to bring exposure to the important works of Afro-Brazilian authors as well as others of the African Diaspora through her bookstore as well as her YouTube channel in which she reviews these books. Now in the nation’s capital of Brasília DF, students at the University of Brasília are coming together to form a book club to discuss and review books by black authors, a great idea as the audience for which these books are written are just as important as the authors themselves.
Students at UnB dedicate themselves to debates on books written by blacks
Na minha pele, by Lázaro Ramos, is the book chosen for the second edition of Quilombook
By Rebeca Oliveira
In the list of best-sellers in the country, Na minha pele (In my skin), a book released by Lázaro Ramos in June, gained exponential attention after the author was one of the guests of the International Literary Festival of Paraty (Flip) in July of this year. For the first time, Flip had 30% of black authors in the lineup. One of the main literary events of the country was opened to the dialogue and it reconsidered the criticisms related to the lack of diversity in the previous edition, beginning with the choice of Lima Barreto as the honoree.
This was one of the reasons why Lázaro Ramos’ work was chosen for the next edition of the Quilombook – Clube Negro do Livro (Black Book Club) in Brasilia. The initiative is by Lineker Teixeira, an administrative student. The meetings take place in the Black Directory of the University. Next week is the second round of debates. In the first edition, a month ago, the participants focused on A cor púrpura (The Purple Color), by Alice Walker, a publication that has the black girl Celie as the protagonist.
“I am in a moment of self-awareness and in the books of the clubs I in which I participated I noticed that people are looking for best-selling or more consecrated books. Black authors are never on this list. They are invisible. Whether by publishers who do not publish them to be on those lists or by the public, who for lack of information can’t find them. I discovered that there were several titles that I wanted to read and no one divulged them,” says Lineker.
Each month, the work of a black author or author will be selected. In the first cycle, he focused on awarded works or best sellers. The format was built using digital media. A Facebook group tightens ties between the participants and also helps them choose the next titles. To assist them, in the same social network, which physical addresses or web links the copy is priced more will be disclosed, or in which public libraries it can be found.
“We talked about the characters, chapters, situations they lived through. There is a social contextualization – if they are works done in Brazil or in Africa, they speak of slavery or of contemporary events. This is reflected in our lives because there is a lot of identification, they are people, fictitious or real, similar to us,” defends the student. “I chose a name that links the word quilombo with book, to give the concept of a collective space of thoughts, to create experiences between people. I want them to feel comfortable for free expression, as unfortunately, they are not in certain places,” he adds.
The idea arises in a necessary social context and of little encouraging numbers. Blacks are still rare on the bestseller list. Not for lack of talent, but for lack of representation in bookstores. Just as their presence in the narratives themselves. A research published in the book Literatura Brasileira Contemporânea — Um Território Contestado (Contemporary Brazilian Literature – A Contested Territory) (Editora Horizonte/Editora UERJ) showed that the black characters are 7.9% in the national novels. Of these, only 5.8% of the protagonists and 2.7% of the narrators.
Upcoming meetings of the Quilombook project – Quilombook – Clube Negro do Livro in Brasilia, in the Diretório Negro Quilombo UnB. The group meets starting at 7pm, always on Fridays. The next book debated, Na Minha Pele, is written by Lázaro Ramos. The others are chosen at the end of each reading.
Source: Correio Braziliense