Júlio Emílio Braz

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additional name:
Julio Emilio
children & youth, slums
Written and spoken word (general)
America, South
created on:
April 28, 2005
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Please note: This page has not been updated since November 17, 2005. We decided to keep it online because we think the information is still valuable.
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Júlio Emílio Braz was born in 1959 in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. At the age of five, he moved with his parents to Rio de Janeiro where he grew up in favelas. Already at a very early age, reading and writing played a central role in his life. Always eager to learn, he taught himself to read before going to school with the help of comics and started to write at the age of seven. At twenty, Braz turned his passion into his profession and entered the literary market with comic strips.
Braz has a relaxed attitude towards the supposed gap between popular genres and the intellectual demands of ´proper´ literature. The author, who is today highly regarded in his home country and whose books are used in school lessons in Brazil, made a living with horror comics which also came out in Europe and with more than 400 western novels which he wrote under 39 pseudonyms for different pocket book series. In the meantime, Braz has written more than 75 children’s and young people’s books and TV series from his scripts have appeared on Brazilian and Paraguayan television. For his first young people’s book, ´Saguairu´ which came out in 1988, he received in the following year one of the most significant prizes for up-and-coming authors in Brazil, the ´Premio Jabuti´ of the Brazilian Book Guild.

Júlio Emílio Braz became well-known in Europe with the translation of his novel ´Crianças na Escuridão´ (1991) which in 1997 was awarded, amongst others, with the Austrian Children’s and Young People’s Book Prize. Braz’s literary commitment is for the street children of the big Brazilian cities. In his young people’s novel, ´Crianças na Escuridão´, he portrays the fate of the six-year-old Rolinha, whose mother leaves her and who joins a girl gang which has its own laws and strict hierarchy. Docca, the ten-year-old, is the leader of the group as "she has more experience in suffering," says the first person narrator. Under the protection of Docca’s gang she receives a minimum amount of protection against drug dealers and the arbitrary encroachments of the police and pimps, yet without any real perspective. Braz’s sober and down to earth language lends Rolinha’s story "an almost pitiless urgency" and "gives space to those layers of the narrative which touch on universal human fears: the fear to be left, the fear of it being your fault." (Neue Zürcher Zeitung). With this, Júlio Emílio Braz also presents generally valid identification points for his young readers in Europe. Rolinha’s story doesn’t just come across as a distant story limited to the Brazilian favelas. It is Braz’s desire, with this ´protocol of the street´, to give the street children of Brazil a voice and to create a conscience for the existence of socially tolerated crimes. "Even if only one young person is outraged, on reading, about so much suffering and despair, then my work on this book has been worth it."
Author: International Festival of Literature Berlin (ilb)



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International Festival of Literature Berlin