Affect and Realism in Contemporary Brazilian Fiction

Affect and Realism in Contemporary Brazilian Fiction

By Karl Erik Schollhammer

Anthem Brazilian Studies

This book is about contemporary Brazilian fiction from the past two decades and concerned with the possibilities of literary intervention in the reality of the historical moment.

PDF, 142 Pages


December 2020

£25.00, $40.00

EPUB, 142 Pages


December 2020

£25.00, $40.00

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About This Book

This book is about contemporary Brazilian fiction from the past two decades and concerned with the possibilities of literary intervention in the reality of the historical moment. Thus, an understanding of the actual role of literature is strategic in the definition of the contemporary, and the book shows an optimism among current writers and artists with respect to the aesthetic, ethical, and political role of literature and art in the twentieth century. 

In contemporary Brazilian prose, two simultaneous ambitions are often reconciled. The commitment to individual or social reality is a challenge that is assumed without thereby necessarily accepting and following the molds of the traditional search for national or cultural identities. This foundation is one of the constants of contemporary prose, without thereby eliminating the continuous existence of a formal experimentalism that is the clearest heir of the modernist project.

Recent literary studies of Brazil generally accept that there was a transformation in the 1960s and 1970s, from a narrative mainly situated in regional areas or the backlands, to the appearance of the big city as a contradictory scenario for national literature. Novelists and short story writers who are consolidated at that time encounter in the big cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro a reality that not only brought a promise of modernity, but also produced a civic marginality that came with extreme poverty, violence, and organized crime. In the 1990s and 2000s, a generation of writers appeared who revived programmatic principles of this urban prose and who began the new century with a new demand for the real. Such a demand included references from historical realism and at the same time preserved a desire to experiment aesthetically in search of effects and affects, through a performative writing that was articulated in the translation of the historical temporality, mainly in the exploration of a lived presence. The narratives discussed are situated in a spatial referentiality that abandons the imaginary construction of the nation, an important task of modern literature, in favor of stories that are globalized by exploring ways to include Brazilian culture and language in new international networks.


The timely publication of Affect and Realism in Contemporary Brazilian Fiction makes the work of one of Brazil’s foremost literary scholars available to the English-speaking public. Written with clarity, elegance and erudition, this brilliant volume combines theoretical depth with a shrewd assessment of the main trends in contemporary Brazilian fiction. — Luiz Fernando Valente, Professor of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies and Comparative Literature, Brown University

This study represents a tour-de-force of international and national theoretical breadth with critical readings on the capacity of contemporary Brazilian novels (2000–2020) to respond to life as it is experienced within the everyday shadows of the Brazilian gestalt, i.e., within the obscured (socio-politically hidden) recesses of the psychic, the social and the historical. By applying the affective as a culture of trauma connected to the “present” collectivity, a new form of anti-aesthetic realism emerges where private and public, psychic and social, fiction and real coalesce. This “real” focuses upon production (metafiction) over reception to underscore art as its own realm of experience. For readers, students and scholars, Schollhammer’s study constitutes a “must-read” for understanding the unstable and uncertain conditions of Brazil’s current political and historical scenarios. — Nelson H. Vieira, Professor Emeritus, Portuguese & Brazilian Studies, Brown University

Affect and Realism in Contemporary Brazilian Fiction presents for the first time in English the recent critical production of one of the leading scholars of contemporary literature in Brazil. Karl Erik Schollhammer traces a complex panorama of Brazil's twenty-first-century literary scene and brilliantly situates it in the transnational theoretical debate. — Pedro Erber, Associate Professor of Luso-Brazilian Studies, Waseda University, Tokyo

Karl Erik Schollhamer’s new book is a wonderful tour through contemporary Brazilian fiction—insightful, cogent, and revelatory. The range and depth of analysis are truly impressive. — Marshall C. Eakin, Distinguished Professor of History, Vanderbilt University

The first comprehensive study in English to focus on Brazilian fiction of the last twenty years, Affect and Realism offers a timely discussion on the meanings of the contemporary. A must for any student of Brazilian literature as well as those interested in world literature, affect, trauma and memory studies. — César Braga-Pinto, Professor of Brazilian and Comparative Literature, Northwestern University

Author Information

Karl Erik Schøllhammer is Full Professor at the Department of Language and Literature at the Pontifície Universidade Católica in Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) and a researcher at the Conselho Nacional de Pesquisa (CNPq) and Cientista do Nosso Estado (Faperj).


Anthem Brazilian Studies

Table of Contents

Preface; 1. The Contemporary in Current Brazilian Literature; 2. Realisms in Question; 3. A Paper World—Reflections on the Realism of Luiz Ruffato; 4. Brazilian Literature and the Market; 5. The Victorious Return of the Self in Contemporary Writing; 7. The Challenge of the Sensible and the Sublime Revisited; 8. Farewell to the Contemporary!; Bibliography; Index.


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