Course to cover Arab immigration in literature

22 de junho de 2016

São Paulo – Immigrants and the influence of their culture in Brazil will be addressed in the mini course Identity and Immigration in 20th Century Brazilian Literature: Milton Hatoum, Zélia Gattai and Raduan Nassar, to be taught by PhD professor Ana Beatriz Demarchi Barel at the Goiás State University on August 24 from 2pm to 6pm. The event will be open to the public.

The two male authors out of the three ones covered are of Lebanese descent. Nassar is a native of Pindorama, São Paulo, and Hatoum was born in Manaus. The professor will tap into some of their works to show the Arab habits and customs that permeate their texts.

Barel will discuss Milton Hatoum’s Tale of a Certain Orient and The Brothers, plus a few chronicles, and Raduan Nassar’s Ancient Tillage. The professor’s take on Zélia Gattai’s work will cover the influence of Italian immigration in Brazil.

“Hatoum and Nassar’s texts differ greatly. Hatoum portrays really strong family ties, scenes from everyday life, candy, household items. Nassar’s is a very streamlined writing style without adjectives or adverbs. It’s a very clean text, one that shares a strong similarity with religious writings,” says Barel, who holds a PhD in Brazilian Language and Literature from Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3, in France.

“Hatoum’s work often features the candy, the food, the ritual reading of the Koran. In The Brothers, they open a restaurant and talk about the hummus, the kibbeh, the safiha etc.”, the professor explains, adding that despite stylistic differences, Nassar’s work also places strong emphasis on family relationships. “Tale features a highly conservative family structure. Nassar depicts a sort of clan-like family structure from ancient Lebanon that’s linked to the land,” she says.

Barel names the two male authors covered in the course as the leading names when it comes to Arab influence in Brazilian literature, but adds another name to the list – Lebanon’s Salim Miguel. Born in the Middle East, Miguel lived in Brazil from age three to 92; he died in April this year, with 33 books under his belt.

Both Nassar and Hatoum are prize-winning authors. The former won the 1978 São Paulo Art Critics Association (APCA) prize for Fiction with A Cup of Rage and the 1998 Jabuti Prize for Tales and Chronicles with Girl on the Way and Other Stories (in a loose translation of the Portuguese title Menina a Caminho e Outros Textos). Last month, the writer won the 2016 Camões Prize, awarded by the governments of Portugal and Brazil and regarded as one of the biggest accolades a Portuguese language writer can earn.

Hatoum has also won several prizes, including the 1989 Jabuti Prize for Best Novel with i>Tale of a Certain Orient. His 2005 book Ashes of the Amazon won five prizes from different organizations.

Quick facts
Mini course ‘Identity and Immigration in 20th Century Brazilian Literature: Milton Hatoum, Zelia Gattai and Raduan Nassar’
August 24, 2pm to 6pm
Where: Goiás State University / Cora Coralina Campus
Av. Dr. Deusdeth Ferreira de Moura, no number – Goiás (GO), Language course, fourth-year classroom
The mini course is part of the 17th Meeting on Languages, Coralinean Journey and Other Literary Studies (XVII Encontro de Letras e X Jornada Coralineana e Outros Estudos Literários). Registration is required and available at Admission costs BRL 20 and is valid for all of the meeting’s events.

*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum