One would not expect Romania, of all countries, to be infatuated with Brazilian literature, but data from the Brazilian National Library (FBN) shows exactly that. Romania has received the second-most FBN grants between 2011 and 2012, behind only Germany, whose interest in Brazil is greatly boosted by Brazil’s forthcoming turn as Guest of Honor for Frankfurt 2013. In total, Romania received fifteen grants.
Univers, a publisher specializing in international literature, leads Romania’s enthusiasm for Brazilian lit. The publisher was founded in 1960, and since 1962 has consistently published Brazilian authors. Out of the aforementioned fifteen grants given to Romania, nine were granted to Univers alone — a higher number than those given to Argentina (seven), the UK (six) or the US (four). Over twenty Brazilian writers have seen their works published in Romanian by Univers, with a usual print run of 1,000 copies.
“With the help of these grant programs we can ensure good translations from originals in Norwegian, Finnish, Dutch, Danish, Turkish, etc. This would not be possible without these grants, because translators from these less[er]-known languages are very scarce and usually busy,” says Diana Crupenschi, Editorial Director at Univers.
But what interest does a Brazilian book hold for Romanians?
To Ms. Crupenschi, Brazil and Romania are not, in literary terms, far apart at all: “I think Brazilian literature resonates a lot with the nature of the Romanian public. Brazilian and Romanian are speaking languages of Latin origin, and a lot of words sound alike. And there is the warmth, the music, the appetite for succulent food, the taste for rhythms and dances, which is common to both nations. I was struck by the resemblance between some female characters in [Brazilian author] Jorge Amado’s books and real women living in the real world in Romania.”