|Ferréz - the Brazilian author of "marginal literature," including his novel Capão Pecado [Sins of the Capon], based on life in the favela Capão Redondo [Fat Capon].|
|City of God - the movie|
|Poet and Founder of Cooperifa, Sergio Vaz.|
This cooperative hosts open mic events in São Paulo during which audience members can share their own original poetry or short fiction as well as recite poems by other authors. Viewed as a way of developing one's own writing/reciting skills and a way of generating interest in literature, this cooperative is only one example of the grassroots initiatives that have sprung up as a result of the marginal literature movement.
In 2004, Alessandro Buzo opened the doors of the first and--thus far-- only bookstore carrying exclusively Brazilian marginal literature. The bookstore, called Suburbano Convicto publishes local authors and regularly hosts events in which these authors do readings from their latest book, promoting themselves as authors or poets and generating interest in literature.
|Alessandro Buzo, founder of Suburbano Convicto, |
a bookstore in São Paulo that exclusively
sells/publishes marginal literature. Photo source
By creating a lifestyle around the literature, those that have decided to dedicate themselves to literature can then also "rep" that decision outwardly: the bookstore's clothing marks them as a poet/rapper/writer just as certain colors can mark gang affiliations in the same neighborhoods.
|Cover art for Capão Pecado|
The book opens with a free-flowing and rhythmic introduction by Mano Brown, a well-known Brazilian rapper.
This introduction is followed by a page-long, poetic dedication by Ferréz, in which he dedicates the book to the illiterate and those who are too poor to own their own books.
Then the narrative begins, moving through quotidian events of the Capão Redondo favela, following an adolescent boy named Rael, the novel's protagonist. Rael aspires to be a writer, but needs to confront the many "distractions" of the favela, the doubt of his family and friends in the ability of a favela boy to become a writer, and a dangerous conflict he initiates with his former best friend by falling in love with the friend's girlfriend.
As you can imagine, the novel doesn't have a warm-fuzzy ending with everything turning out all right. Justice does not prevail-- rather, what prevails is a sick, twisted vigilante form of justice wielded by the weak over the weaker.
But the novel approaches these subjects delicately and with a great degree of artistry. Making abundant use of the free indirect discourse, the narration successfully provides a kaleidoscope of perspectives. This free indirect style has an unsettling effect on the reader: one finds herself casually accepting circumstances that she would normally be horrified by. Ferréz has been accused of not knowing how to craft a novel, because the narration in his books can shift rapidly between perspectives-- but this seems to me to be the most efficient way to force his readers into the sense of helplessness and confusion often thriving in the favela.
The very title foreshadows the deconstruction of symbolic power that is to come in this book: a capon is a castrated rooster. Normally a symbol of male aggression, violence, and power, the symbolic rooster here is castrated, fattened, and awaiting the drop of the ax.
I have not found any English-language translations yet of Ferréz's books, but the author also happens to be a rapper (!!!) so you can still appreciate the sound of his words, even without understanding them.....
Until next time-- keep those petticoats rustling!!!