23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023

Paulo Lins

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1958 and grew up in Brazil’s most notorious favela, known to its residents as Cidade de Deus, the City of God. The writer, anthropologist and teacher used his personal experiences as the basis of his 1997 novel ‘Cidade de Deus’. The book, which he worked on for over eight years, took its impulse from an academic study of the favelas that Lins was involved in.  It describes the development of the City of God in three parts, from a social housing project in the 60’s, to the ghetto it deteriorated into in the course of the late 70’s.  The angry young hero’s life is ruled by violence and drugs.  However, at the same time the author opens our eyes to the other side of life in the ghetto, to the very individual culture it has produced and which is manifested in its own language, fashion and music.  Celebrated by critics and readers in Brazil, the book has so far also been published in Portugal, Italy, France, Sweden, Spain and in Catalan.  The novel was made into a film in 2002, which was also a resounding international success.  The Brazilian director Fernando Mereilles, originally a very successful director of television commercials, quotes Victor Hugo by way of ironic explanation for the worldwide response to the film: “Talk about your village, and you’ll be universal.” Lins was co-founder of the Cooperativa de Poetas, a group set up in the 70’s to give young authors the chance to publish their work.  His poetry collection ‘Sob o Sol’ (1986, Engl: Under the Sun) was a result of this cooperation. He is a member of the jury of the renowned Premio Casa de las Américas.  He is currently working on a book about slavery in Brazil since the 15th century, in which he intends to carry out a fictional reconstruction of the history of a Brazilian family descended from slaves, right back to their African forefathers. Lins lives in Rio de Janeiro.

© international literature festival berlin


Die Stadt Gottes
München, 2004
Übersetzung: Nicolai von Schweder-Schreiner