Brazilian Literature, Cup of Rage, erotic literature, international fiction, Man Booker International long list, Naduan Nassar, New Directions Books, novella, Stefan Tobler, Translated fiction, World Fiction
Naduan Nassar’s 45 page novella “Cup of Rage” is a Brazilian classic from 1978 that was recently translated into English and was in 2016 Long-listed for the Man Booker International Prize. It is composed of seven sentences and seven chapters. Claire-Louise Bennett, author of “Pond” which I recently partially reviewed (I could not finish it) describes “Cup of Rage” as:
“Cataclysmic, insatiable and ablaze, Raduan Nassar’s voluptuous prose thundered through me from the very first time and shook me to the core.”
Brazil at the time was in the throes of a dictatorship. There is a political and social element to the novella, with a hint of hypocrisy elicited by considerably older upper middle class landowner and his young journalist lover whose rant about liberalism and reactionary tendencies overlook the two servants of the landowner upon which both depend with some disdain.
The lovers soft-core sadomasochism, is reflected more in the verbal invectives they inflict on each other, with the landowner’s misogynistic tendency coloring his narrative. His young lover’s viewpoint is only expressed through his lens, although her half of the dialog is equally vituperative. They are both dependent on each others rage, but the hatred may be of themselves.
Writing in seven continuous sentences sometimes challenges the reader in understanding who is speaking. On occasion I found some of the prose to clever, but I was not captivated by it as Ms. Bennett was.
“… (hadn’t I told her a hundred times that pious prostration and erection of a saint are mutually dependent)”
There is tension to the writing, but it was not compelling for me. The best part of the novel for me was the servants hiding in the bush to avoid being punished for no reason and having to listen and watch the vicious sexual orchestration between the equally spoiled elder boss and his lover being played out.
This was one of the two books Mr. Nassar wrote before retiring to farm life. The book was apparently turned into a film. It is not a book that I would go out of my way to read, but others feel otherwise.