Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Brazilgate 2011

The most prominent daily newspaper in Brazil, O Globo, quoted government officials saying they'll request an apology for the US publication of Seven Days in Rio by Francis Levy, as well as write a letter to the US Embassy. The article elicited nearly 350 comments from readers of the paper, some outraged while others found the matter trivial. O Globo quotes Aparecida Gonçalves, the secretary for combating violence against women, a government body that reports to the presidency, insisting that all Brazilians must be "treated well, even in fiction."

We include a fiction disclaimer on the copyright page of all our books, but in addition, the author penned a prologue that kicks off the novel, stating:

"None of the characters in this novel are real, nor are the places or the psychoanalytic movements, even though the name Rio may conjure the real city of Rio de Janeiro. Lacanian analysis as described in the novel bears no resemblance to the branch of psychoanalytic practice initiated by the French analyst Jacques Lacan. Even the duration of time stated in the title bears little resemblance to what is commonly known as seven days. So don't start writing irate letters to my blog correcting this or that or asking for refunds."

We understand it to be natural for people to feel protective of their community. It was clear from the comments posted to the O Globo website that there is a greater cultural discussion ongoing, and we don't believe a work of satire by an American writer, never presented as anything other than fiction, belongs in that cultural discussion. It is also apparent from the O Globo article that the quoted official never read the book before demanding an apology, which is unfortunate.

Joshua Mohr pointed out to me that this all sounded familiar to when government folk in Brazil got in a tizzy in reaction to a Simpsons episode. According to BBC, "Simpsons father Homer was kidnapped by an unlicensed taxi driver, and he and son Bart were robbed by street children... Bart was at one stage swallowed by a boa constrictor, and Rio's slums appeared to be dirty and dangerous."

No comments: