Brazilian Translation Club

1 July 2019

The Brazilian Translation Club is a series of workshops in which students, translators, and enthusiasts of Brazilian literature meet to discuss the translation of a selected contemporary Brazilian short story. It is is a partnership between Ana Cláudia Suriani da Silva, Senior Lecturer in Brazilian Studies, Department of Spanish, Portuguese & Latin American Studies, UCL, and Nara Vidal, writer and owner of Capitolina Books (https://www.capitolinabooks.com/).

Anyone who translates from and into Portuguese or has some knowledge of the language is welcome. Each session a different member reads out their translation and leads the discussion. The sessions are fun and very productive. We worked on the translation of “Fome” by Sérgio Tavares in January, of “Marelena” by Nara Vidal in February. In March we had a special edition with authorAna Maria Machado who was present at the workshop and discussed the translation of her short story “Tratantes” with UCL students and the general public. MA students Elton Uliana (UCL), Emyr Humphreys (UCL) and Bianca Costa Sales (King’s College) were the guest translations so far.

Here in an extract from Uliana’s and from Humphrey’s translation:

"Fome" by Sérgio Tavares, translation by Elton Uliana (in Cavala, Record, 2018)



At this moment, my body in abstinence begins to react. A rage explodes in splashes of boiling blood through the rigid muscles, burning the reigns that control this voracious, thirsty, insatiable animal. I’m throbbing between my legs and I can no longer keep them closed. He remains in the doorway, exactly where I want him, debilitated, a sloppy secretion stained by iodine dripping, all rotten. 

I look into his eyes and slowly open my legs. I unveil my viscous, wet sex, a rose bud. Exposed, I reveal myself to him, a bitch rolling over on heat. At first he remains motionless and even if he is pathetically numbed, I can no longer stop, I’ll have to satisfy myself - but, gradually, his face begins to change into something frightening, something which, in any other situation, would have scared me.


"Marelena" by Nara Vidal,translation by Emyr Humphreys (in A loucura dos outros, Reformatório, 2016)



Marelena was already on her third kind of medication by the time she was eight years old. It all started with the sheets. She was like a cat on hot bricks because of the bloody sheets. She wanted symmetry, everything all neatly put into boxes. “Over my dead body,” I shouted one day, I was so angry and exhausted. I started reading about this obsession of hers and realised that I couldn’t argue with her about it, but I couldn’t help losing my patience with her either. I worried about her, I wanted that strange obsession to stop, I wanted her back, all scruffy, her feet grubby from playing so much. It was so long since I’d last laughed to myself, gathering up the dishes and thinking of those little feet, all dark with that kind of dirt that never completely washes off. My poor Marelena. I felt ashamed, but I would just get so angry that she couldn’t stop that rubbish. When the bed wasn’t made exactly the way she wanted, she would scream in hate. It was an impossible kind of hate, you know? There was no way we could set those sheets right. She thought there was. She would get out of bed and set them right, end to end; then she would get into bed and mess them up again; then she would scream and do it all again. One night she actually fell asleep because she screamed so much. She screamed herself to sleep.

Brazilian Translation Club
Brazilian Translation Club 1


Nunn Hall, Institute of Education, UCL, 26 March 2019