By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Featuring original essays by ten foreign journalists about their experiences in Brazil, the book “Palavra de Gringo: um olhar estrangeiro sobre o Brasil” (Foreigner’s Word: the foreigner’s view of Brazil”) will launch tonight, Thursday, November 13th, at Livraria da Travassa in Ipanema.
Aimed at Brazilian readers and written in Portuguese, the book features the work of foreign correspondents from countries around the world, including America, Sweden and Morocco. The ten contributors are: Julia Michaels, Jenny Barchfield, Philipp Lichterbeck, João Moreira, Lamia Oualalou, Santiago Farrell, Veronica Goyzueta, Tom Phillips, Waldheim García Montoya, and Henrik Jönsson.
“We wanted to show a different and yet deep and solid view of Brazil now – through the eyes of foreigners that know the country and the culture,” Hugo Gonçalves, the literary editor of “Palavra de Gringo,” told The Rio Times. “It´s pretty insightful, surprising and entertaining.”
For her contribution to the book, American journalist, blogger and author Julia Michaels chose to write about her dealings with and shifting perceptions of domestic workers during her over three decades in the country in an essay entitled, “Empregadas e outros trabalhadores domésticos: confissões de uma gringa, repórter e dondoca,” (“Maids and other domestic workers: Confessions of a gringa, reporter and upper class woman).”
“I picked that topic to write about for two reasons,” Michaels told The Rio Times. “One, it’s a useful way into the socioeconomic change I have seen in the 33 years I’ve lived here. Two, I have had the unusual experience of fitting into the social fabric of the upper classes of Brazilian society, so I can describe (and confess to) the values and assumptions such people make about the lower classes – and discuss the challenges that now arise, with the changing socioeconomic pyramid.”
Gonçalves who is Portuguese and worked as a correspondent himself for most of his life in places including Madrid, Spain, New York City, United States and around Brazil before becoming a literary editor for Língua Geral in Rio, said that living abroad gave him a different understanding of his own nationality. His hope is that “Palavra de Gringo,” might do the same for readers in Brazil and maybe, if the book is republished, for English speakers in the future.
“The articles are deep, solid, and enticing,” said Gonçalves. “They range from religion to “faxineiras” (cleaning women), from beauty to race issues. The reader will learn, but also be entertained. I laughed a lot reading some of those articles and I am confident the readers will, too. As you might know, cultural differences can be pretty amusing things to debate.”
Both Cariocas (Rio residents) and foreigners alike are welcome to attend the “Palavra de Gringo” launch, which will begin at 7PM. “The book launch will be a lot of fun, with many of the authors present,” said Michaels. “The group is so varied, with a Swede and a Moroccan and everything in between.”
“Many foreigners who live here, live with huge questions, issues and doubts in their minds about Brazil. As journalists, we get the chance to delve into many of these and understand where we live just that much better,” said Michaels, concluding; “I hope our thoughts on some of the central questions on life here will be useful to readers.”