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JO?O ANTONIO

"(...) Take a German newspaper from a year or two ago – B.Z. from Berlin, or Die Welt, from Bonn – and you will find, in the book review pages, praise for João Antônio that he seldom receives from the Brazilian press. A two-page article in Die Welt, signed by G. A. states "João Antônio, with his books now translated into German, provides clear evidence that, despite all else, Brazil is now producing vigorous prose and innovative literature.

A striking characteristic of João Antônio’s work is the use of language that is far removed from "literary" writing, especially in dialogue between the characters. Soon the reader understands that they are people speaking in normal fashion and as they traditionally do among themselves, and are not puppets repeating words that the author puts in their mouths. And this is where the writer's talent comes in. It’s easy to capture the speech of the people by simply switching on a tape recorder. But in his short stories, João Antônio is not writing a newspaper story, he is creating literature. Whatever he captures on the streets and from daily life passes through his creative filter. This is why his characters and their speech acquire a strength and truthfulness that convince and move us, gaining either our sympathy or our revulsion – as is the case of the people we meet in life, from the cool dude ("bacanaço") to the scrounger ("lambão de caçarola") and the bouncer ("leão-de-chácara")(...)".
in: José J. Veiga, "Guardador". Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 1992.

"(...) The lowlife characteristics of João Antônio’s characters are rarely limited to a single trait. In addition to socioeconomic hardship he invariably throws in aspects of childhood, gender, race, some kind of handicap – usually caused by a downtrodden social condition, undernourishment or some kind of conflict with more serious consequences – which only increase the need of the character to affirm himself, in permanent banter that disguises his frailties. Hence the essentially oral nature of João Antônio’s short stories, which is not a mere literary technique aimed at creating a more dynamic text as a psychological image of the character.

In an indeterminate time and place, João Antônio’s characters are in typical picaresque tradition: they need to be permanently on the move in order to survive, whether running away from trouble or stalking the next victim. In this way, Malagueta, Perus e Bacanaço gives us the best example of spatial movement, but also the characters give us temporal fluidity, when they recall, in their worst moments, the memories of the good times. Survival, on the other hand, demands continuous tension and attention from them. João Antônio’s characters like to talk, and also need to listen: their learning curve is continuous, because it is essential for their survival. In this way we also have the tradition of the "formative novel", which was well observed by Cassiano Nunes and opens new ways in which to read João Antônio’s fiction. (...) He also, like his characters, is a kind of outcast, he is always obliged to challenge life head on because, like his characters, he also lives as an outsider, way out on the wild side. He, and his characters, are heroes and victims of the savage capitalism that thrives in our midst. (...)"
in: Antônio Hohlfeldt. "Pra lá de Bagdá", in "Os Melhores Contos – João Antônio". São Paulo: Global, 1997.