“Lost Books” is a weekly series highlighting forgotten books through the prism of Tablet Magazine’s and Nextbook.org’s archives. So blow the dust off the cover, and begin!
Brazilian-Jewish writer Clarice Lispector’s family immigrated from a Ukrainian shtetl to Recife, Brazil, when she was two months old, and she soon swapped out Yiddish, the language her family spoke at home, for Portuguese. In 1944, at the age of 24, she published her first novel, Near to the Wild Heart, which told the story of a middle-class woman’s sheltered upbringing and loveless marriage. The stunning, enigmatic writer, who rarely addressed Jewishness in her work (though she was fixated with Brazilianness), died of cancer in 1977, and is buried in the Jewish Cemetary of Caju, in Rio. Benjamin Moser, who wrote a biography on Lispector, spoke with Vox Tablet in 2009.
As Anderson Tepper wrote longingly in 2008,
And so I carried on, and was bewitched by the rest of her fiction as well—eerie, existential vignettes, savant-like parables and prophesies of modern angst seared by the Brazilian sun. Her work called to mind a tropical, female Kafka with sensory overload.
Read Dizzy With Life, by Anderson Tepper
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