6 Books Written By Conceição Evaristo That You Should Read

“Escrevivência” - that’s the term Conceição Evaristo uses to define what she does, meaning “to tell our stories from our perspectives.” The neologism is compounded by “escrita” (writing, in English) and “vivência”, as in experience. For her, it represents her subjectivity as a black woman in brazilian society, which, according to her, would inevitably contaminate her writing.

 

Evaristo was born in Pindura Saia, a slum located in the south zone of Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais. In the 70’s, she moved to Rio de Janeiro to study Portuguese at UFRJ (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro) and worked as a teacher in public schools in the city. The writer also has a master and doctorate degrees in Literature. This whole trajectory has profoundly impacted Conceição Evaristo’s work, in a way that she symbolizes the importance of having representativity in Literature.

Image Source: Estante Virtual Blog

If you know something about Brazilian Literature - or even if you are from Brazil yourself and, therefore have studied our national authors -, the names you probably remember are Machado de Assis, José de Alencar and Carlos Drummond de Andrade, for example. So here are six of Conceição Evaristo’s books for you to read and get to know brazilian culture through the eyes, and words, of a black woman.

1. Olhos D’água (Watered Eyes), 2014

Image Source: livroecafe.com

This is a short story collection, each one of them telling the experiences of different women. What they all have in common is the hard life of the suburbs, denouncing the reality of poverty and urban violence that black people live in.

2. Insubmissas lágrimas de Mulheres (Insubmissive Women’s Tears), 2011

Image Source: livroecafe.com

On another short story compilation, Evaristo brings the reader a delicate portrait of affection and solidarity, writing once more about women and including many reflections throughout the book. More than the hard place they are at, it shows how black women have in common the ability of overcoming suffering through resistance and union.

3. Ponciá Vicêncio, 2003

Image Source: Bárbara Mussili/ Refúgio Ameno on Instagram

“Ponciá Vicêncio” is Conceição Evaristo’s first novel. The book, named after its protagonist, follows her story from her childhood to adult life, describing Ponciá’s feelings, relationships and identity issues to highlight questions such as gender, racial and social discrimination.

4. Becos da Memória (Memory’s Alleys), 2006

Image Source: Born To Read/Instagram

The title of this novel reveals its construction: it is based on Evaristo’s growing up experience in the brazilian suburbs. The memories written in this book are from a distant past, and the narrative used is as tangled as the alleys in a slum.

5. Poemas da Recordação e Outros Movimentos (Remembrance Poems and Other Movements), 2008

Image Source: Letras Pretas

The poetic anthology contains 65 poems filled with lyrism. They tell stories about ancestry with feminine voices - love, religion, prejudice and other themes are part of the narratives that sorely causes reflection. Built in personal and collective experiences, the writer describes life throughout dreams and hopes besides hardness.

 

6. Histórias de Leves Enganos e Parecenças (Stories of Light Mistakes and Resemblance), 2016

Image Source: Lendo Com Ana/Instagram

 

Evaristo’s last book is a tribute to oral tradition, including 12 short stories and a novel, all permeated by the fantastic and the magical - supernatural events that used to fill the author’s imagination when she was a kid. The characters from the book - mainly women -, tell and listen to stories passed from one generation to the other, which allows the creation of a fusion of the traditional and the contemporary.