The writer, screenwriter and playwright Patrícia Melo was born in Assis in the Brazilian state of São Paulo in 1962. She moved to the capital in 1978 and studied at the Faculty of Philosophy of the Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo. She then worked as a scriptwriter for various Brazilian TV projects and a Portuguese television series.
It was in Lisbon where she also wrote her first work, »Acqua Toffana« (1994; tr: Tofana Water). Like most of her subsequent publications, the book can be assigned to the genre of »urban prose«, which is characterised by elements of the crime novel. Melo, however, does not want to commit herself to a particular style so as not to stifle the dynamics of her own development. Violence as a phenomenon of Brazilian society is in the foreground in many of her socially critical novels: »Violence, as it was experienced in Brazil from colonization to dictatorship to the renewal of democracy, is fundamental to Brazilian culture. […] You can’t understand the Brazil of today if you don’t understand the violence in our history and present.« For her semi-documentary novel »O Matador« (1995; Eng. »The Killer«, 1996) about the career of a professional killer, Melo conducted interviews with imprisoned contract killers. The text not only undertakes an analysis of social circumstances, but also establishes a linguistic realism to life in the favelas of São Paulo. The novel was awarded the German Crime Prize and was made into a film in 2003. Her social satire work »Elogio da Mentira« (1998; Eng. »In Praise of Lies«, 1999) tells the story of an unsuccessful crime writer and his lover, a snake breeder, whose attempt to get rid of her husband, goes terribly wrong: instead of passing away, the hated husband continues to limp through life, so, a second attempt on his life must follow. In 2001, Melo received the important Brazilian literary prize Prêmio Jabuti for her fourth novel »Inferno« (2000; Eng., 2002), in which she depicts the rise and fall of a drug lord in a poor district of Rio de Janeiro in an extremely realistic manner. After a series of other novels, including »Valsa Negra« (2003; Eng. »Black Waltz«, 2005) and »Gog Magog« (2017; tr: The Neighbour), Melo most recently presented »Mulheres Empilhadas« (2019; tr: Stacked Women), a novel about femicide as a systemic problem in a male-dominated society.
Patrícia Melo has received numerous international awards, including the LiBeraturpreis and the Prix Deux Océans. In 1999, Time Magazine named her the »leading writer of the millennium« in Latin America. Her works have been published in translation in England, France, the United States, Germany, Italy, Spain, and China. The author lives in Lugano.