Literature in quarantine: There has never been such an end as now

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By Daniel Brazil*

Commentary on the most recent book by Evandro Affonso Ferreira

Of everything I've read over the past year, nothing has stuck with me as much as the novel. There has never been such an end as now. It took me months mulling over the narrative, waking up in the middle of the night remembering images from its pages, surprising myself with the innovative language.

Evandro Affonso Ferreira is a renowned writer, who dominates the vernacular like few others, an absolute inventor, although little known to the general public. He travels along a literary road that very few dare to tread, without ever giving up originality. A kind of urban Guimarães Rosa (he disagrees with the comparison!), who subverts and decants language until he reaches a saturation of meanings that borders on poetry.

In this novel, from 2017, it follows the lives of five street children, narrated in a fragmented way by the memory of the (perhaps) only survivor, years later.

Eurydice is the central figure of the novel. The name evokes the Greek nymph that Orpheus tries to rescue from Hades. Hell, in this case, is the dark and unequal metropolis where the underprivileged, the abandoned, the fallen and cursed crawl. Underneath bridges, in filthy alleys, bathing in floodwaters, eating leftovers, committing petty theft and, sometimes, dreaming, the quintet wanders among snot and ooze, and lives with the ghostly character that embraces them every night: Relento.

Eurydice is a mother figure for the younger members of the group, a lover for the older ones, a passion for the narrator, Seleno. “Girl-woman with an inflammable body”. His scathing comments about life contrast with the lyricism of the observations of Ismênio, the youngest, a fallen and hallucinated angel capable of approaching a blind woman and saying “Hey, pretty girl, if you want, I can be your guide dog for the rest of your life” .

In Brazilian literature, perhaps only Jorge Amado has focused on a group of street children, in his classic Sand Captains (Company of Letters). Evandro reinvents the motto and places the batten high above, creating an Orpheus-narrator with a powerful voice: “There is no flaming dagger capable of removing the humidity of the night, whose name is Relento. City? Ripper of our hope: we were all strangers in the very place where we were born.”

In just over 150 pages, Evandro Affonso Ferreira offers us the most poignant portrait of the vertiginous inequality in which we are immersed, without giving up lyricism. The work of a contemporary master, who has already produced masterpieces such as My Mother Killed Herself Without Saying Goodbye, APCA Best Novel Award 2010, and The Beggar Who Knew the Adages of Erasmus of Rotterdam by Heart, 2013, laureate with Jabuti.

*Daniel Brazil is a writer, author of the novel suit of kings (Penalux), screenwriter and TV director, music and literary critic.

Reference

Evandro Affonso Ferreira. There has never been such an end as now. Rio de Janeiro, Record, 2017 (https://amzn.to/3E5N2KF).

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