João Paulo Cuenca
João Paulo Cuenca was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1978. He gave his literary debut in 2003 with the novel »Corpo Presente« (tr: Body Present), in which the driven protagonist wanders the streets of Rio de Janeiro in the search for lost feelings and hunting doomed love affairs, while his contemplations about the squalidness of life increasingly undermine his own idealistic attitude, threatening to corrupt it. Cuenca’s literary premiere was praised by the critics for its controlled and mature command of language, which lends the often surrealistically broken fragments of his story a sense of urgency. This was followed by »O Dia Mastroianni« (tr. The Mastroianni Day) in 2007, a short novel about two friends wending their way through a city, not heading in any particular direction, quoting their heroes in life in an attempt to become like them, in particular the main character played by Marcello Mastroianni in Fellini’s classic »8 1/2«. Cuenca portrays a generation that is desperately seeking an individuality that sets them apart on the one hand while, on the other hand being passionately obsessed with icons of popular culture. Cuenca’s observations during an extended period of stay in Tokyo were the inspiration for his third novel »O único final feliz para uma história de amor é um acidente« (2012; tr: The Only Happy Ending to a Love Story is an Accident). Set in a futuristic Japanese metropolis, it tells the story of a young man, Shunsuke, who falls in love with the Polish-Romanian waitress Iulana who in turn is trying to gain the amorous attention of a female dancer. These complex relationships are observed by Shunsuke’s father, who not only runs an espionage network, but also lets an anthropomorphic machine do his speaking for him. Cuenca creates a bizarre and turbulent love story with vivid imagery, which is given extra verve its the continuous change of narrative perspective.
Besides writing books, Cuenca also writes plays, has worked as a director and also worked for several years as a journalist and columnist for various Brazilian daily newspapers as well as print and online magazines, among these »O Globo«, »Tribuna da Imprensa« and »Jornal do Brasil«. His feature reports and essays are contained, among others, in the anthology »A última madrugada« (2012; tr: The last dawn). Individual texts have appeared under »Words without Borders« and in the »Americas Society Review«. In 2007, he was named by the Hay Festival as well as a committee in the UNESCO-World Book Capital Bogotá as one of the 39 most respected contemporary authors in Latin America under 39. In 2012, the renowned English literary magazine »Granta« named him as one of the 20 best young Brazilian writers. Cuenca lives in Rio de Janeiro.