Bebel que a cidade comeu, 1968
Zero, 1974 (English translation, 1975)
Dentes ao sol, 1976
Não verás país nenhum: Memorial descritivo, 1981 (And Still the Earth: An Archival Narration, 1985)
Obeijo não vem da boca, 1985
Oanjo do adeus, 1995
O anônimo célebre, 2002
Depois do sol, 1965
Cadeiras proibidas, 1976
Pega ele, silêncio, 1976
Os melhores contos, 1993
O homem que odiava a segunda-feira, 1999
Cuba del Fidel, viagem à ilha proibida, 1978 (travel)
Veia bailarina, 1997
Ignácio de Loyola Brandão (brahn-DOWN) is most noted for his socially conscious fiction of resistance during the years of authoritarian military rule in Brazil, from 1964 to 1985. He was born in a small city in the state of São Paulo, where he wrote film reviews as a teenager. At twenty, he moved to the cosmopolitan city of São Paulo, where he worked for numerous newspapers and magazines. As a journalist, he covered students’ movements, workers’ organizations, and living conditions in the slums. These concerns appear with some frequency in his fiction, which thematically constitutes a portrayal of life in contemporary urban centers and is characterized by the use of cinematic techniques, elements of pop culture, journalistic language, and documentary approaches.
Because of the climate of fear and repression of the early 1970’s, Brandão’s controversial book Zero was rejected by several publishers. It first appeared in Italy, in a prestigious series of contemporary Latin American fiction in translation. After the book’s success in Europe, a Brazilian publisher risked releasing the original, which was an immediate sensation and won a significant national book award in 1975. Military authorities banned it, but a campaign led by intellectuals and publishers resulted in a new authorization. At the end of the decade, Zero again appeared on best-seller lists in Brazil. After that time, Brandão produced several new titles and saw his work translated into English, Spanish, French, and German.
Brandão’s personal definition of literature foregrounds “the defense of human dignity and the denouncement of oppressive systems.” He regards his imaginary constructs as “portraits of our time” that should “make people aware of the reality in which they live.” He is not concerned with traditional notions of artistic value or the “literary level” of language. His view of modern society is conveyed formally, through slang and the disarticulation of temporal and presentational structures. Brandão’s fiction probes the life of the city, lending significance to unheroic individuals who represent the masses inhabiting the modern metropolis. The stories of Depois do sol (after the sun) examine debasement, material misery, and associated emotions. Similarly, Brandão’s first novel dramatizes human tragicomedies in São Paulo, with considerable reference to the mass media.
Zero depicts life in a large city in a mythical “America-Latindia” and constitutes an allegory of underdevelopment and repression in Latin American nations. In this exacerbated portrait of urban agony, physical and psychological violence abounds. Historically, the most sensitive aspect is its portrayal of the persecution (including torture) of the political opposition. Cruelty and macabre cynicism are also seen in the savage pursuit of money. The squalor of the masses is contrasted with the frolicking of the country-club set. In the novel, an anonymous common man, clearly emblematic of the collectivity, gains consciousness of his situation and becomes a revolutionary in search of freedom.
While Brandão’s concerned position is nothing new in Latin American literature, his formal reinforcement of fundamental views is innovative. Zero draws on multiple genres and levels: crude reporting, television news, advertising, soap opera, film, theater, satire, and farce. Brandão dismantles the linearity of realism, reflecting social chaos and agitation in a narrative collage that utilizes footnotes, a newspaper layout, comic balloons for quotes, graphs, drawings, and other unusual effects.
The novel Dentes ao sol (teeth to the sun), while not as important a work as Zero, further shows Brandão’s strategy of conscious fragmentation in the construction of a worldview. In contrast And Still the Earth is linear in concept, somewhat like feuilleton or soap opera. This work of quasi science fiction focuses on a Brazil of the future where manipulation of technology is of paramount importance. Dehumanization and social control come into play in different lights. There are echoes of George Orwell’s Big Brother authority figure from Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), but the nation’s colonial condition and destiny are viewed through environmental destruction. The original Portuguese title parodies a patriotic and idyllic poem of the late nineteenth century that promised Brazilian youth a nation of unparalleled beauty and potential. Here, Brandão portrays a fictional future with no country at all. This abiding concern with national conditions and the implementation of innovative but appropriate narrative means to convey such preoccupations are what distinguish Brandão in contemporary Brazilian literature.