×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Ancient Tillage
     

Ancient Tillage

by Raduan Nassar, Karen Sherwood Sotelino (Translator)
 
A Brazilian master novelist in English at last
For André, a young man growing up on a farm in Brazil, life consists of “the earth, the wheat, the bread, our table, and our family.” He loves the land, fears his austere, pious father, who preaches from the head of the table as if from a pulpit, and loathes himself as he begins to harbor shameful

Overview

A Brazilian master novelist in English at last
For André, a young man growing up on a farm in Brazil, life consists of “the earth, the wheat, the bread, our table, and our family.” He loves the land, fears his austere, pious father, who preaches from the head of the table as if from a pulpit, and loathes himself as he begins to harbor shameful feelings for his sister Ana. Lyrical and sensual, written with biblical intensity, this classic Brazilian coming-of-age novel follows André’s tormented path. He falls into the comforting embrace of liquor as—in his psychological and sexual awakening—he must choose between body and soul, obligation and freedom.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
11/07/2016
This slim, intensely powerful novel portrays the coming-of-age of a young man named André who grew up on his family’s farm in Brazil but has now fled to an unnamed city in an act of rebellion against his domineering, extremely religious, and constantly sermonizing father. André is also running from feelings for his sister, Ana, illicit desires that he expresses with agonized passion in an almost phantasmagoric scene alone with Ana in the family’s chapel. Numbing his agony with the help of generous amounts of wine, André languishes in a boarding house until his brother, Pedro, comes to bring him home. In prose tonally reminiscent of scripture, the novel explores the interior life of a character on the brink of an emotional and sexual awakening set against the tragic portrayal of a family on the verge of disintegration. Newly translated from a text originally published in 1975, this is an essential and unflinching work that combines torment and desire to arrive at an explosive examination of ancestry and the world we inherit. The novel’s conclusion, taking place at a homecoming party for André, is breathtaking in its almost mythological expansiveness. (Jan.)
The Independent
“Raduan Nassar became a Brazilian sensation with his first novel. Now published in English, the world will come knocking.”
The Times Literary Supplement
“How often, honestly, does the unveiling in translation of a ‘forgotten genius’ live up to the hype? Well here’s one that does: Raduan Nassar.”
Malcom Forbes - The National
“While reading, and marveling at, Ancient Tillage and A Cup of Rage—both of them set on farms in the Brazilian outback, both of them stylistically bold achievements—we are struck by two other feelings: disappointment that Nassar wrote so little, and disbelief that it took so long to render his unique voice into English.”
Kirkus Reviews
2016-10-26
A prodigal son's homecoming gives ample reason to think that everyone might have been better off if he'd just stayed away.Brazilian writer Nassar is being rediscovered in his own country, where, though never quite forgotten, he fell into near silence for 40 years following the publication of this novel and its companion novella, A Cup of Rage. During that time, he retreated to the countryside, where he grew up and took to farming. In this slender story, young André has followed much the same course, having tired of his father's sternly pious ways and gone off to the big city to try to make a life there. It didn't work: "The happiness I had imagined existed beyond our father's realm was no more than an illusion." André is a study in torment, and what torments him the most is a decidedly unhealthy attachment to his sister, Ana: "Ana was my illness, she was my insanity, my air, my splinter and chill, my breath, the impertinent insistence in my testicles." Well, now. When he is not warding off thoughts of Ana, he is out in the sheepfolds and livestock pens, carefully eyeing the "smug nanny-goat" or trying to dissuade his siblings from taking his example and heading off to the metropolis themselves; confesses one to André, perhaps improbably, "I want to be known in the brothels and in the alleys where tramps sleep, I want to do lots of different things, be generous with my own body…." Ah, but that way trouble lies. Nassar's story has all the gloominess of Eugene O'Neill's Desire Under the Elms, and it's just as packed with allusion to classical mythology and literature, as when, in closing, André's mother cries out "an ancient lament that to this day can still be heard along the poor Mediterranean coast" even if it issues from the Brazilian rain forest. Nassar is tremendously adept at capturing the existential anguish of a troubled mind. It's not easy or uplifting reading, but his dark view of the world commands attention.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780811226561
Publisher:
New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publication date:
01/31/2017
Pages:
184
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author

Raduan Nassar was born in 1935 in Pindorama, in the state of São Paolo, Brazil. A Cup of Rage and Ancient Tillage are his two major literary works. Raised in a Lebanese immigrant family, Nassar attended law school at the University of São Paolo and was a journalist and editor for the newspaper Jornal de Bairro. Although hailed around the world as a major writer, Nassar has led a private existence since 1985, dedicated to farming and livestock production.

Karen Sherwood Sotelino has translated novels and short stories from Portuguese into English. Recently, she has taught at Stanford University, where she is a visiting scholar in the department of Iberian and Latin American cultures.