Adriana Lisboa’s latest novel Crow Blue, her first to be published in the UK, is a lyrical and passionate account of a young girl on a roadtrip from Rio de Janeiro to Colorado in search of family ties. We catch up with her as the spirit of Carnaval sweeps the sleepy Suffolk coast.
Author portrait © Julie Harris
Where are you now?
I’m in a room at the Brudenell hotel in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, where I’m staying for the FlipSide festival.
Where and when do you do most of your writing?
Usually during the morning – I’m definitely a morning person. And I do it at home, either at my desk or on the dining room table.
If you have one, what is your pre-writing ritual?
I don’t really have one, except that everything on my desk has to be more or less organised. More or less.
Full-time or part-time?
Pen or keyboard?
Keyboard, but a little notebook and a pen in my bag just in case.
How do you relax when you’re writing?
Taking a walk always helps.
How would you pitch your latest book in up to 25 words?
It’s a book about belonging (to a place, a country, a family) and the characters’ search for their place in the world.
Who do you write for?
I think I always do it first for myself, because I feel the urge to, but it’s good to know that sometimes my books may make sense to other people.
Who do you share your work in progress with?
With my husband. If it’s a poem, I sometimes send it to a couple of friends.
Which literary character do you wish you created?
Kafka’s Josef K.
Share with us your favourite line/s of dialogue, poetry or prose.
“Viver é muito perigoso” (“living is very dangerous”), from Grande Sertão: Veredas (translated as The Devil to Pay in the Backlands) by João Guimarães Rosa.
Which book do you wish you’d written?
Hermann Hesse’s Siddharta.
Which book/s have you most recently read and enjoyed?
Train Dreams by Denis Johnson, the poems of What Work Is by Philip Levine.
What’s on your bedside table or e-reader?
James Scudamore’s Heliopolis
Which books do you feel you ought to have read but haven’t yet?
So many… more novels by Yukio Mishima, Proust’s In Search of Lost Time from book four on, David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, among others.
Which book/s do you treasure the most?
My collection of poems by Emily Dickinson, Beauty and Sadness by Yasunari Kawabata, Grande Sertão: Veredas by João Guimarães Rosa.
What is the last work you read in translation?
A little precious volume by the Chinese poet Yao Feng called In Brief.
Which story collections would you particularly recommend?
Carson McCullers’s The Ballad of the Sad Cafe and Other Stories, Clarice Lispector’s Family Ties.
What will you read next?
Lijia Zhang’s memoir Socialism is Great!
What are you working on next?
A new novel, but the plot is still somewhat hazy.
Imagine you’re the host of a literary supper, who would your dinner guests be (living or dead, real or fictional)?
Emily Dickinson would be the guest of honour. Also Sylvia Plath, Hermann Hesse, Primo Levi, Italo Calvino, Marguerite Duras, José Saramago, Lijia Zhang, Arundhati Roy.
If you weren’t writing you’d be…?
The owner of a small poetry bookshop somewhere in New England.
Crow Blue by Adriana Lisboa, translated by Alison Entrekin, is published by Bloomsbury Circus. Read more.