"I’ve always written short stories, I’ve always been interested in the form being dictated by the concept, rather than the other way round." Jon McGregor
Brazil kicks
The invention of futebol

The invention of futebol

The crowd piled in around the São Cristóvão pitch and there were police and firemen, bacchanal experts and moonshine connoisseurs, employers and employees, handymen of every sort, pretty girls with cavityless smiles and a multitude of delicacies from Canal do Mangue and Ilhas dos Melões, said Tio Balela. The crowd was already in a frenzy,...
Eve's mango

Eve’s mango

A long, sinuous highway cuts the town in half, stretching as far as the eye can see. The road connects and disconnects the southern and northern halves of the country, accentuating their differences, reawakening their desires. Adrift in the middle of nowhere, the town battles against boredom and oblivion. Old people in the streets and...
Inside the marvellous city

Inside the marvellous city

Relationships of all kinds – intimate, casual, professional – are the subject here, the Rio de Janeiro way, meaning you and whoever or whatever you are dealing with also witness history in the making, the city’s singular curvaceous geography that can and does shape lives, the cross-cultural fun of flirting with traditions that don’t belong...
Mariano takes stock

Mariano takes stock

There was no doubt when the Castro & Castro Industries shares skyrocketed on the Stock Market: the family had sold control of the company to the Bank of Massachusetts. The long transaction, involving much back and forth, dashed the hopes of many investors. Rumour had it that Castro Sr. broke down in tears and actually...
The game of errors

The game of errors

Perhaps the haughty young woman who hastily climbed aboard the rented carriage parked at Rocio Grande was named Berenice. She had just watched the first stage adaptation of The Thousand and One Nights and was coming out of the theatre with her husband, a military engineer overseeing the work on the Aqueduct. This information would...
Alberto Mussa's timeless fictions

Alberto Mussa’s timeless fictions

My first introduction to Alberto Mussa’s writing was in 2008, when a mutual friend gave me a copy of his remarkable novel O enigma de Qaf (‘The Riddle of Qaf’) as a gift. I was immediately struck by the extraordinary literary quality; by the extensive research, imagination, and sensibility that had clearly informed the work;...
Ex cathedra

Ex cathedra

“Godfather, you’ll go blind from that, sir.” “What?” “You’re going to go blind. Reading is so sad. No sir, give me that book.” Caetaninha took the book out of his hands. Her godfather paced around and then went into his study, where there was no lack of books. He closed the door behind him and...
The will

The will

Because the visit was urgent, I didn’t even finish my lunch hour. Before the clock struck two I was at the door of Otto Mayer’s old, twenty-something-storey building on Rua Tupis. The notary had told me with no uncertainty that we were doing him a favour and not to worry about protocol. “Forget the witnesses,...
Circus eroticus

Circus eroticus

It was afternoon. The hustle and bustle downtown masked the nervous coming and going of men in front of the old two-story house on Rua Primeiro de Março. On the façade of dusty drawn blinds, a plaque read ‘SECOND-HAND BOOKS – 2nd floor’. Beneath, in small letters, the line ‘Ring the bell’. The client obeyed...
Daughter

Daughter

The skin, touching your skin with the tip of my finger, drawing your outline, I remember that this natural skin covering us can only capture our sensations on the surface, on which thousands of radars are planted; like roads, the skin is not depth but extension, tattooed dregs, the skin is not like the ocean,...