22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Luiz Ruffato

Portrait Luiz Ruffato
© Hartwig Klappert

Luiz Ruffato was born in 1961 in the region of Minas Gerais in southwest Brazil. The grandchild of Italian immigrants, his mother was an illiterate laundress and his father was a semi-illiterate popcorn seller. In his native city, he performed several activities as a clerk and textile worker, until he moved to Juiz de Fora, where he worked as a mechanical turner and later studied journalism at the local university. In 1990, he moved to São Paulo permanently. There, while working for »O Estado de S. Paulo«, one of the most important newspapers in the country, he began to write literary texts based on his experiences in the world of the working class.
Ruffato débuted with the novel »Eles eram muitos cavalos« (2001; Eng. »There Were Many Horses«, 2013) in 2001, which is acclaimed as one of the landmarks of 21st-century Brazilian literature. In this book, he presents a panorama of daily life in the metropolis of São Paulo. On the one hand, it is a city of rich people with luxury cars and stately villas in stylish districts, whereas on the other hand it is the home of the impoverished masses who struggle to survive from day to day. For this text, which is composed of 70 episodes or chapters that all unfold over the course of one day, Ruffato was awarded the Prêmio Machado de Assis of the National Library as well as the Prêmio Associação Paulista de Críticos de Arte. After publishing the poetry collection »As máscaras singulares« (2002; tr: The One-of-a-Kind Masks), Ruffato began working on his most ambitious work, »Inferno provisorio« (tr: Temporary Hell), which is about the industrialization of Brazil since the 1950s and published in five volumes (2005-2011). These books were awarded the Prêmio Associação Paulista de Críticos de Arte, the Prêmio Jabuti and the Premio Casa de las Americas (Cuba), and some of the stories served as basis for the film »Redemoinho«, which was released in 2016. His novel »Estive em Lisboa e lembrei de você« (2010, tr: I Was in Lisbon and Thought of You) portrays the fate of a poor Brazilian immigrant in Portugal and was also adapted to film. In 2007, Ruffato released the novel »De mim já nem se lembra« (tr: Unremembering Me), about the life of a young metallurgist in São Paulo during the military dictatorship. He also won the Prêmio Jabuti in 2015 for his first children’s book »A verdadeira história do Sapo Luiz« (tr: The True Story of the Frog Luiz). In 2018, Ruffato published the short story collection »A cidade dorme« (tr: The City Sleeps). His most recent work is the novel »O verão tardio« (tr: The Late Summer).
At the 2013 Frankfurt Book Fair, where Brazil was the guest country of honor, Ruffato delivered the opening speech, in which he openly addressed the problems in his homeland. Together with his German translator Michael Kegler, he won the Hermann Hesse Prize in 2016. His books have been published in 12 countries.