Contemporary Brazilian Short Stories (CBSS) effort was first conceived in early 2011 as a means to promote authors from Brazil among English speakers. Our goal is to bring a slice of Brazilian realities to readers worldwide by sharing different perspectives from Brazilian nationals on diversified themes, such as personal and professional life, love, loneliness, comedy, crime, environment, and random observations of daily routines.
Selected authors were first approached in January 2011 and, upon giving their authorization, their works were translated and scheduled for publication. Starting June 2011, CBSS became available at BrazilianShortStories.com and continues to be updated every 1st and 15th of the month.
In order to provide a glimpse into who they are and where they come from, pictures and brief bios are also added to the website. Readers who are interested in the Portuguese language can even visit each writer's blog or personal website to read the original version of the stories translated and published by CBSS, as well as other material made available by each author.
Reaching a Worldwide Audience ― CBSS was created and is maintained by Word Awareness, Inc., a small network of professional translators, whose President and CEO is Rafa Lombardino, a translator and Brazilian national herself.
"I've been hearing about self-published American authors who suddenly get this huge following because readers love their stories. Some of them even go on to get contracts with big publishers and get translated into different languages, reaching an even wider audience worldwide," she explains, emphasizing the fact that these authors only became successful after initiating a direct contact with their fans and making their work available independently, without having publishers and bestseller lists as facilitators.
"As a translator, I thought providing an English version for the work of talented Brazilian writers would be a good idea to help more readers have access to their work and renew their appreciation for foreign authors and different points of view," she adds, saying that some of the translated short stories that made to the website have also been submitted to a great variety of journals and magazines specializing in literature and translation.
Seeing Your Work Through Different Eyes ― One of the first authors to be featured at the CBSS website was Ronaldo Brito Roque, from the State of Minas Gerais. Also a translator who reads English, he highlighted how a writer sees his own work translated into words he didn't write, but that nonetheless express the original intentions that came from him.
"Since I started writing for a living, I think one of the most remarkable experiences I've had was seeing my short story translated into another language. I welcomed it with mixed feelings," Ronaldo says.
"You start to wonder about those sentences, which are so different from those you originally wrote, but at the same time they are supposedly yours. Then you start to recognize the inflection of the characters, the sequence of events, the metaphors, the little twists and turns of style. All of a sudden, the story belongs to you once again, but in a new form."
Annual Anthologies For a Wider Reach ― In addition to the website form, CBSS is also designed to become a book every year. Volume One was published in December 2012 and brought 22 stories featured online between June 2011 and May 2012.
Wilson Gorj, author and editor from the State of São Paulo, explains how important it is for writers to have their work translated into such a universal language. "It gives some credibility to our literature. After all, nobody would go through the trouble of translating the text if the story wasn't worth it," he says.
"Having a version available in English opens many doors for readers who are unfamiliar with Brazilian literature, or are even unaware of the Portuguese language. Actually, this kind of reader is soon to be extinct, since Brazil has been enjoying more international visibility lately. Through translations, the CBSS initiative shortens the distance between the languages once spoken by Shakespeare and Camões."
How to Participate ― Authors from Brazil are invited to submit their short stories, ranging from 500 to 2,500 words long, as well as a picture of themselves and a brief biography highlighting when and where they were born, their educational and professional background, and literary activities. Portuguese-to-English translators are also welcome to contact this literary initiative and help sort through and translate the long list of material awaiting selection.