Júlio Emílio Braz was born in 1959 in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. At the age of five, he moved with his parents to Rio de Janeiro where he grew up in favelas. From a very early age, reading and writing played a central role in his life. Always eager to learn, he taught himself to read before going to school with the help of comics and started to write at the age of seven. At twenty, Braz made his passion into his pr ofession and entered the literary market with comic strips he’d written. Braz is relaxed towards the supposed gap between popular genres and the intellectual demands of » pr oper« literature. The author, who is today highly regarded in his home country and whose books are used in school lessons in Brazil, made a living with horror comics which also came out in Europe and with more than 400 western novels which he wrote under 39 pseudonyms for different pocket book series’. Braz has written more than 75 children’s and young people’s books and TV series from his scripts have appeared on Brazilian and Paraguayan television.
For his first young people’s book, »Saguairu« which came out in 1988, he received in the following year one of the most significant pr izes for up-and-coming authors in Brazil, the »Premio Jabuti« of the Brazilian Book Guild. Júlio Emílio Braz became well-known in Europe with the translation of his novel »Crianças na Escuridão« (1991) which in 1997 was awarded, amongst others, the »Austrian Children’s and Young People’s Book Prize«, and the prize Die Blaue Brillenschlange. In addition he received the Sonder pr eis der Ausländerbeauftragten des Senats Berlin in 1997. For his book “Lendas Negras” (2001) he received the award Altamente Reccommendável des Fundação Nacional do Livro Infantil e Juvenil in 2002. This award was likewise given to him in 2006 for the book “Sikulme e outros contos africanos” (2005).
Braz’s literary commitment is for the street children of the big Brazilian cities. In his young people’s novel, »Crianças na Escuridão«, he portrays the fate of the six-year-old Rolinha, whose mother leaves her and who joins a girl gang which has its own laws and strict hierarchy. Docca, the ten-year-old, is the leader of the group as »she has more experience in suffering,« says the first person narrator. Under the pr otection of Docca’s gang she receives a minimum amount of pr otection against drug dealers and the arbitrary encroachments of the police and pimps yet without any real perspective.
Braz’s sober and down to earth language lends Rolinha’s story »an almost pitiless urgency« and »gives space to those layers of the narrative which touch on universal human fears: the fear to be left, the fear of it being your fault.« (»Neue Zürcher Zeitung«). With this, Júlio Emílio Braz also pr esents generally valid identification points for his young readers in Europe. Rolinha’s story doesn’t just come across as a distant story limited to the Brazilian favelas. It is Braz’s desire, with this » pr otocol of the street«, to give the street children of Brazil a voice and to create a conscience for the existence of socially tolerated crimes. »Even if only one young person is outraged, on reading, about so much suffering and despair, then my work on this book has been worth it.«
Most recently the author published “A voz de quem te ama” (2006). Braz lives in Rio de Janeiro.
© international literature festival berlin