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Flipping Out

By Kim M. Hastings

Oswald de Andrade would have loved FLIP. So confirmed Antonio Candido, Brazil’s most revered literary critic, in his opening talk at the ninth annual International Literary Festival in Parati, more widely known by its playful Portuguese acronym (from Festa Literária Internacional de Parati), held July 6–10.

The most irreverent of the country’s modernists, Oswald and his theories of cultural cannibalism—not pure consumption but critical digestion and creative absorption of the energizing spirit of others—continue to inform, if not define, both artistic production and cultural dialogue in Brazil today.

FLIP 2011 celebrated Oswald’s meaty work and omnivorous appetite in rare form, providing ample opportunity over the course of five days to socialize with and devour the ideas and writings of authors from around the globe. “Cannibalism alone brings us together,” Oswald emphatically declared in his “Anthropophagic Manifesto.” Within this context, and the words of panelist/historian Marcia Camargos, “We are what we eat—and what we read.”

Equally substantive discussion served up at FLIP had to do with expanded efforts to internationalize Brazilian literature—specifically, to promote its exportation and consumption by other readers worldwide. The Ministry of Culture and the National Library Foundation unveiled a hefty new incentive program to stimulate and support translation of Brazilian literary works, with particular priority being given to publications available by August 2013, when Brazil will be the guest of honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Publishers, agents, authors, and translators, representing a variety of countries and cultures, pledged to see the fruits of these efforts realized. Brazilian literature embodies a sense of shared human identity yet remains woefully unavailable to many.  

May the pronouncements made at FLIP this year provide for a new kind of feast. And, to take Oswald’s advice, let’s eat.

Published Jul 12, 2011   Copyright 2011 Kim M. Hastings

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