Ruffato writes Brazil 'as I see it', and it's not pretty

Fri Oct 18, 2013 3:08pm EDT
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By Kirsti Knolle

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Brazilian author Luiz Ruffato grew up penniless, slept on the floor of a bus station for a month and shocks his fellow countrymen when he says that's still the way it is despite Brazil becoming an economic powerhouse.

"When you walk through the streets of Brazil, you will see what you read in my books," Ruffato, the son of an illiterate washerwoman and a popcorn seller, told Reuters in an interview at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Ruffato gave the fair's opening speech last week which instead of praising Brazil and its achievements dwelt upon many of the themes that the 52-year-old addresses in his novels.

His themes are the consequences of rapid industrialization, social deprivation and the problems faced by women and homosexuals in his country.

In his early and still most famous work "There Were Many Horses", published in 2001, he describes the chaos, violence, misery and decadence of mega-city Sao Paulo.

"We are still a country in which not everyone has the right to homes, education, healthcare and recreation. They are rather privileges for only a few," he said in his keynote speech that shocked even some of his supporters.

"We are a paradox country," he said.

Ruffato's words were in sharp contrast to the Brazilian government's official message of rapid economic development and opportunity for all. His work scarcely dwells on the clichés of modern Brazil - its beach culture, carnivals and caipirinha cocktails. His reality is different.   Continued...