Opisanie świata by Veronica Stigger
Written as a sort of fictional travelogue, jumping from one richly recounted vignette to another, Opisanie świata follows Opalka, a quiet Polish man, and Bopp, an eccentric Brazilian polyglot, on a transatlantic journey from Poland to the Amazon on the eve of World War II. During their journey these two unlikely travel companions meet a cast of unusual characters, such as Dona Oliva the Andalusian widow, former coffee barons Mr and Mrs Andrade, Curto Chivito, a collector from Uruguay, and his soft-spoken but hard-drinking German companion, Hans, and Priscila the tarantella dancer.
Mixing third-person narrative, letters and diary entries, and even a bit of poetry, Opalka and Bopp's trip is described through interesting degrees of intertextuality, alluding to the work of the Brazilian modernists of that time. The stories told range from the absurd and hilarious, to sentimental and sweet.
As daring, surreal and funny as in her previous work, Stigger has created a fascinating (often fantastical) book that spans decades of history and an ocean. The result is a stunning and cinematic debut novel that feels at once contemporary and classic, a love letter to Brazilian modernism.
Veronica Stigger is a writer, art critic, curator and university professor from Porto Alegre, Brazil. She has lived in São Paulo since 2001. In addition to her own published collections of critically-acclaimed short fiction, her work has been included in several anthologies both in Brazil and abroad, and translated to Catalan, Spanish, French, Swedish, German and Italian.
Opisanie świata, her first novel, was awarded the 2013 Machado de Assis prize, the 2014 Açorianos prize, the 2014 São Paulo Literature prize for a Debut Author over 40, and was a finalist for both the prestigious Portugal Telecom and Jabuti prizes.