To write about this subject, which I think is very important for all Brazilian writers, I asked for help from my good friend, Julio Emilio Braz, a veteran author who has received many awards in Brazil and Europe.
Incidentally, I open a parenthesis here and pay my sincere respects to him, Julio Emílio Braz, who, ever persistent, never gave up his dream. He began his career writing horror comics for the former Publisher Vecchi. Unemployed at that time and responsible for supporting his family, Julio began to enjoy creating stories and never returned to work as an accountant. With his first book, entitled Saguairu, he was awarded the Jabuti Author revelation, in the 1980s. Today he has about 150 titles published, and several of his works have been translated into other languages. He is a big hit in schools in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Mexico. Some of his books had received prestigious awards in those countries. He is a winner, and I admire him so much. Survive only from literature in Brazil is a privilege for the few and he managed to get there. Congratulations, my friend!
His experience in traveling throughout Brazil and also in Europe visiting schools and giving talks to teachers and students, revealed him that young literature in Brazil is far more engaging than the young foreign writing. According to him, Brazilian writers have no shame to expose in their books the real social problems of our country — which doesn’t happen, for example, in Europe or the United States. Instead, almost all stories published for young people are always turning around the same themes: fantasy, adventure, love, humor, horror. The experience showed him that exists on the part of foreign publishers a strong resistance to discuss more pressing issues, always considered “inappropriate” for youth. According to him, we’re way ahead of the “First World” because despite the little space that Brazilian media gives to this kind of publications, the number of books is entirely representative and there are many writers who are dedicated exclusively to this category. Many of them also reached great financial success. It’s the case of my friend.
The lesson of all this is crucial because once again we’re led to recognize our talents and to the same extent our unconscious boldness in dealing with issues such as AIDS, abortion and teenage pregnancy, crime, sexuality, drugs, religion, hunger, and emotional difficulties, poverty, misery. The young literature we have today in our country is literature that makes think, which already has its history and respected authors considered classics in the genre — which is a source of pride for all of us, authors, publishers, and readers.
If our teens have access to works that don’t mask the reality — often harsh and challenging — of our society, they are undoubtedly ready enough to develop critical thinking about life and world, because they live in a latin country, whose day-to-day is very different from day-to-day life in the rich countries. Facing reality as it’s shown is the first step to try to modify it one day. And who will make these transformations? The youth, of course! They must read about our country, about our social ills, so they can later fight against injustice and help to make Brazil a beautiful place to live.