Federico Falco on Antonio Prata
GRANTA 121: BEST OF YOUNG BRAZILIAN NOVELISTS
Introduced by previous Best of Young Novelists
Antonio Prata was born in São Paulo. He has published nine books, including Douglas (2001), As pernas da tia Corália (2003), Adulterado (2009) and, most recently, Meio intelectual, meio de esquerda (2010). Prata also writes for television and contributes a literary column to the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo. ‘Valdir Peres, Juanito and Poloskei’ (‘Valdir Peres, Juanito e Poloskei’) is a new story. Here, as part of an ongoing series on the twenty authors from The Best of Young Brazilian Novelists issue – which was first published in Portuguese by Objectiva – Antonio Prata is introduced by previous Best of Young Spanish-Language Novelist Federico Falco.
In ‘Valdir Peres, Juanito and Poloskei’, the tender, bittersweet coming-of-age short story by Antonio Prata, a group of children in a São Paulo neighbourhood discover the differences of class and the power of money through a sticker album from the 1982 World Cup. Some soccer players’ stickers are easier to come by and loose their value quickly. Others, the difficult ones, the big names in that World Cup, become something mythical and they give the owners of their stickers some of their power, of their superiority. In this way the albums come to mirror the lives of the children who collect them. Between Australian parakeet funerals, adult video store entrepreneurs, the nouveau riche and television series, Antonio Prata tells the story of a battle where the contenders struggle for the ownership of the best toys.
With a perfect blend of nostalgia and humour and a great capacity to summarize the life of his characters in two lines, Prata gives us a story that is hard to forget. – Federico Falco, Best of Young Spanish-Language Novelists, 2010
Valdir Peres, Juanito and Poloskei
At first, everybody on the street had the same purchasing power, and belongings per capita comprised a bicycle, a football, a box of Playmobil, some building blocks and other odds and ends. With the release of the sticker album for the ’82 World Cup, however, we did notice a slight change in the distribution of wealth: some got five little packs a day, others were entitled to ten, but really nothing that might threaten our socio-economic balance. When all was said and done, what with suffering at the lack of the rarest ones – Sócrates, Maradona and Paolo Rossi – and disdaining the duplicates – Valdir Peres, Juanito and Poloskei – we all learned the law of supply and demand, and we understood the pleasures and hardships of the middle class. Until the day Rodrigo showed up with the remote control jeep.
Translated by Daniel Hahn.