Christiana de Caldas Brito

 

Christiana de Caldas Brito
Christiana de Caldas Brito photographed in 2003 by Claudio Miscia (photo courtesy of the author)

Christiana de Caldas Brito was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1939. She spent time in the USA (1957-1958), Argentina (1968-1970), and Austria (1970-1972). Since 1990 she has lived in Rome. She studied Philosophy in Brazil and later, in Italy, Psychology and Drama, and for many years has practised as a psycho­therapist in these two countries. Daughter of a writer, she started writing very young, publishing stories in Brazilian magazines, but only pursued this passion when she moved to Italy.

De Caldas Brito is one of the most original and creative voices of the fairly new phenomenon of transcultural literature written in Italian by non-native authors. The short story ‘Ana de Jesus’ (turned into a monologue for the stage and performed in several Italian cities) earned her a prize at the Concorso Eks&Tra, the first award for non-native Italian writers, in 1995 and, in the following years, she became one of the most popular and distinguished authors, confirmed by the literary awards she has received. She conducts regular workshops in creative writing and wrote Viviscrivi: Verso il tuo racconto (2008), a creative writing handbook.

The short story is de Caldas Brito’s favourite literary genre, and has published two collections: Amanda Olinda Azzurra e le altre (1998; 2004) and Qui e là: Racconti (2004). Many of her short stories have appeared in anthologies and online literary magazines. She is also interested in children’s literature and in 2000 wrote La storia di Adelaide e Marco on the themes of diversity and marginalization; other children’s fables have appeared in anthologies. In 2006 de Caldas Brito published her first novel, 500 temporali, set entirely in Brazil, which was translated and published there in 2011. This novel, set in a favela in Rio de Janeiro, portrays contemporary Brazil and its contradictions. Nevertheless, some of the issues that she treats, such as the intrusion of television into everyday life, the myth of easy money, and the cult of physical appearance, affect not only Brazil but also Western society in general. Her second novel, Colpo di mare (2018), is focused on a friendship between two women and employs a variety of styles and strategies. A realistic narrative prevails in the first part, set in Italy, while the second one, set in Brazil, deals with legends and myths of this country, something that gives the novel a fantastic dimension. She also consistently employs the literary device of ekphrasis within a metanarrative structure that reflects on the art of writing. In her output so far, de Caldas Brito has demonstrated that she is a writer who knows how to renew herself.

De Caldas Brito is also interested in theatre, having written one-act plays which have been performed, and acting in some of them. She has also written several essays in which she reflects on the meaning of learning and expressing oneself in a foreign language and on the role of trans­cultural writers in Italy. These essays complement and shed light on her fiction.

De Caldas Brito’s narrative is influenced by her interest in psychology and her practice as a psychotherapist. Some of her stories, in which emotions play an important role, have been inspired by her dreams. As she admitted in an interview, writing for her means giving free rein to her emotions, but unlike many transcultural writers, she is not interested in autobiographical narrative.

In her earliest stories she revealed great sensitivity for the condition of migrant women, whom she portrays as isolated in a domestic space. ‘Ana de Jesus’, for example, is the monologue of a Brazilian maid working in Italy, who feels lonely and is torn between her alienated life in Italy and her saudade for Brazil. However, even though de Caldas Brito represents many migrant characters with great empathy and understanding for their plight, she does not only deal with themes of migration, especially in her more recent works.

Some of her stories are characterized by a fantastic dimension in which the ‘uncanny’ plays an important role (‘L’orologio’, ‘In fondo all’occhio’, ‘Siamo felici così’). Her interest in such themes as madness or in literary strategies typical of the fantastic narrative tradition, such as moving from a familiar everyday dimension to an uncanny and inexplicable one, or body parts that detach themselves and act independently, is a legacy of Brazilian literature, in which fantastic aspects are used not to escape from reality but to unmask it. Her writing is characterized by a strongly critical view of society, which she combines harmoniously with her light style, in which irony and humour play an important role. A good example of de Caldas Brito’s use of fantasy and irony can be found in the short story ‘Io polpastrello 5.423’, in which she expresses her opposition to the Bossi-Fini law, which required that migrants be fingerprinted. In this story, the fingertips separate from the bodies of their owners and invade the police station, creating great turmoil. 

Her most recent short stories continue to reveal her sense of humour. Among them ‘CORRISPONDENZA’ (2021) is particularly amusing in reworking the story of Biancaneve as a young woman eager to emancipate herself from a Prince Charming who wants to subdue her. This ironic and funny modern fairy tale shows once again the witty fantasy of this author. In this story, as in many of her works, de Caldas Brito reveals her interest in making the readers reflect on the human condition, and in particular the female condition, and using literature as a means to awaken consciences.

One of the most interesting aspects of de Caldas Brito’s narrative is her very creative use of Italian. Early linguistic innovations may be found in the stories ‘Ana de Jesus’ and ‘Olinda’, in which the female characters express themselves in a hybrid language that has been called ‘portuliano’. This is a kind of interlanguage, characterized by interference between Italian and Portuguese, that allows the author to portray these characters more realistically and, at the same time, to underline their condition of living between cultures. De Caldas Brito likes to play with words, probably influenced by the musicality of her mother tongue, which gives her great sensitivity to the sounds of the Italian language. Examples of her play on sounds and onomatopoeia can be found in several of her stories (‘Chi’, ‘Ià, la vecchia’, ‘Il volo’, ‘Tutti’, ‘Il battitasti’). A further example of her experimentation with language, inspired by the Lusophone writers João Guimarães Rosa and Mia Cuoto, is the condensation of words, with which she creates interesting neologisms that enrich the Italian language. The name of the protagonist of the short story ‘Maroggia’ illustrates this procedure, combining the words mare and pioggia

De Caldas Brito’s readership is not only Italian. Thanks to the translations of her stories, she has gained a reputation in the USA, Brazil, Turkey, Austria, and Germany. She illustrates well how the cultural background of a transcultural writer can coexist with her new identity and enrich the literature of her adopted country.

 

Bibliography

Novels

500 temporali (Isernia: Cosmo Iannone, 2006)

Colpo di mare (Arcidosso, Grosseto: Effigi, 2018)

Short Stories

‘Ana de Jesus’ in AA.VV.: Le voci dell'arcobaleno ed. by Alessandro Ramberti and Roberta Sangiorgi (Santarcangelo di Romagna: Fara Editore, 1995, pp. 59-61) [An expanded version appears in the collection Amanda Olinda Azzurra e le altre (1998, pp. 29-34; 2004, pp. 37-41)]

Amanda Olinda Azzurra e le altre (Rome: Lilith Edizioni, 1998; Salerno: Oèdipus, 2004)

‘Il mendicante’, ‘Il canto di Mohamed’, and ‘Linea B’ in AA.VV.: Parole di Sabbia ed. by Francesco Argento, Alberto Melandri, and Paolo Trabucco (Santo Eustachio di Mercato S. Severino, Salerno: Edizioni Il Grappolo, 2002, pp. 16-29)

‘L’orologio’ (Musibrasil, notizie e cultura del Brasile contemporaneo, 5, 2002) available online at http://www.musibrasilnet.it/archivio/Otto/L'orologio.htm

Qui e là: Racconti (Isernia: Cosmo Iannone, 2004)

‘Frontiere’ and ‘Vigilia di Ferragosto’ in AA. VV.: La seconda pelle (San Giovanni in Persiceto, Bologna: Eks&Tra Edizioni, 2004, pp. 47-51)

‘Memoria invasa’ in AA.VV: Le parole dei luoghi (Salerno: Marlin, 2006, pp. 55-60)

‘Il giardino’ (Nae: Trimestrale di cultura, 16, 2006, pp. 33-34)

‘Metamorfosi di un’immigrata nel paese di ailati’ (El-ghibli: Rivista online di letteratura della migrazione, 12, 2006) available online at http://archivio.el-ghibli.org/index.php%3Fid=1&issue=03_12&section=1&index_pos=3.html

‘Cronaca di una feijoada brasileira’ in Mondopentola ed. by Laila Wadia (Isernia: Cosmo Iannone, 2007, pp. 49-57)

‘I due falò’ (Kúmá: Creolizzare l’Europa, 17, 2009; Nótos, 2, 2013) available online at https://notos.numerev.com/articles/carnet-2/306-i-due-falo

‘Clandestini’ (El-ghibli: Rivista online di letteratura della migrazione, 25, 2009) available online at http://archivio.el-ghibli.org/index.php%3Fid=1&issue=06_25&section=1&index_pos=4.html

‘La finestra’ in Breviario per conoscere la letteratura italiana della migrazione ed. by Armando Gnisci and Nora Moll (Rome: Sinnos, 2010, pp. 31-33)

‘L’acqua è mia’ (El-ghibli: Rivista online di letteratura della migrazione, 37, 2012) available online at http://archivio.el-ghibli.org/index.php%3Fid=1&issue=09_37&section=1&index_pos=3.html

‘L’incontro’ in Il quartiere dei destini incrociati: Due anni di scrittura creativa presso la Biblioteca Dergano-Bovisa ed. by Mircea Butcovan and Remo Cacciatori (Ferrara: Edizioni Linea BN, 2013, pp. 17-19)

‘Un cuore ostinato’ (InVerbis, 1, 2013, pp. 225-230)

‘La 201’ in HOTell. Storie da un tanto all’ora ed. by Elio Grasso (Lugo di Romagna: WhiteFly Press, 2014, pp. 166-170)

‘L’uomo del balcone’ (La bottega del Barbieri, 2015) available online at https://www.labottegadelbarbieri.org/luomo-del-balcone/

‘Il muro’ (El-ghibli: Rivista online di letteratura della migrazione, 49, 2015) available online at https://www.el-ghibli.org/il-muro-de-brito/

‘Abitare in alto’ (El-ghibli: Rivista online di letteratura della migrazione, 52, 2016) available online at https://www.el-ghibli.org/abitare-in-alto/

‘Insieme a tavola’, ‘L’idraulico’, ‘Tic e tac’, ‘Nel buio’, ‘La cena perfetta’, and ‘Il fu...nerale’ in Pubblichiamoli a casa loro. Prove letterarie di umorismo migrante ed. by Matteo Andreone and Raffaele Taddeo (Rome: Ensemble, 2018, pp. 72-94)

‘Contaminazione. Prima Variante’ and ‘Improvvisamente’ in Sulla stessa barca. Incontri di scrittura creativa tra cittadini italiani e stranieri ed. by Remo Cacciatori (Milan: Centro Culturale Multietnico La Tenda, 2018, pp. 77-79 and p. 96)

‘La città e i sogni’ and ‘Trilogia dell’ultimo confine. Il cancello. La finestra. Il passeggero’ in PerMeMilano; come viviamo i luoghi della città. Somiglianze e differenze nelle diverse culture ed. by Remo Cacciatori and Rita Colombo (Arcore, MB: Kanaga, 2019, p. 21 and pp. 66-77)

‘Parole’ (Il segnale, 115, 2020, pp. 61-63)

CORRISPONDENZA(El-ghibli: Rivista online di letteratura della migrazione, 2021) available online at www.el-ghibli.org/corrispondenza/

Children’s Stories

La storia di Adelaide e Marco (Salerno: Il Grappolo, 2000)

‘A Jangada’ and ‘A Rede’ in AA. VV: Il carro di pickipò ed. by Paolo Gavagna and Raffaele Taddeo (Rome: Ediesse, 2006, pp. 11-17) 

‘Nella curva ovest del millepiedi’ (Caffè, 18, 2009, pp. 10-11)

 ‘Spettabili Fratelli Grimm’ (Lettera internazionale, 111.1, 2012, pp. 47-48)

Plays

Inciampi (1990)

Plastica a domicilio (1991)

Serata di carnevale (1992)

Ana de Jesus (1996)

L’avventura di Marfina (1997)

Vivo o morto (1999)

Ali (2004)

Essays

‘Lo zaino della saudade’ in Memorie in valigia ed. by Alessandro Ramberti and Roberta Sangiorgi (Santarcangelo di Romagna: Fara Editore, 1997, pp. 11-14)

‘Postfazione’ in Amanda Olinda Azzurra e le altre (Rome: Lilith Edizioni, 1998, pages unavailable)

‘Saudade’ (Kúmá: Creolizzare l’Europa, 3, 2002) 

‘Il mio percorso dai racconti al romanzo’ (Kúmá: Creolizzare l’Europa, 5, 2002) 

‘L’apporto degli scrittori migranti nella letteratura e nella società italiana’ in Gli scrittori della migrazione ed. by Roberta Sangiorgi (San Giovanni in Persiceto, Bologna: Eks&Tra Edizioni, 2002, pp. 11-17)

‘Che cosa vuole dire essere uno scrittore migrante?’ in Diaspore europee e Lettere migranti ed. by Armando Gnisci and Nora Moll (Rome: Edizioni Interculturali, 2002, pp. 135-137)

‘La scrittura e il senso’ in Primo Convegno Nazionale. Culture della migrazione e scrittori migranti. Ferrara 19-20 aprile 2002. Atti del convegno ed. by Maria Calabrese, Carolina Peverati, and Paolo Trabucco (Ferrara, 2003, online, p. 42) available online at https://digilander.libero.it/vocidalsilenzio/primoconvegnonazionale1.htm

‘Il percorso linguistico dei migranti’ in Allattati dalla lupa ed. by Armando Gnisci (Rome: Sinnos, 2005, pp. 35-47)

Viviscrivi, verso il tuo racconto (San Giovanni in Persiceto, Bologna: Eks&Tra Edizioni, 2008)

‘Migranti: nuove identità e partecipazione sociale attraverso la scrittura?’ in Lingue e letterature in movimento ed. by Silvia Camilotti (Bologna: Bologna University Press, 2008, pp. 19-28)

‘Le donne dei miei racconti’ in Roba da donne: Emancipazione e scrittura nei percorsi di autrici dal mondo ed. by Silvia Camilotti (Rome: Mangrovie Edizioni, 2009, pp. 211-251)

‘Letteratura e migrazione’ (El-ghibli: Rivista online di letteratura della migrazione, 31, 2011) available online at http://archivio.el-ghibli.org/index.php%3Fid=1&issue=07_31&section=6&index_pos=2.html

‘Passaparole!’ in AA.VV.: Passaparole. Racconti interculturali (San Giovanni in Persiceto, Bologna: Eks&Tra Edizioni, 2011) available at www.eksetra.net/laboratorio/laboratorio-2009/libro-passaparole/presentazione-di-christiana-de-caldas-brito/

‘L’avventura dell’incontro’ in AA.VV.: Così vicine, così lontane: Una ricerca sui bisogni e i consumi culturali delle cittadine straniere (Rome: Provincia di Roma. Assessorato alle politiche culturali, 2012, pp. 33-37)

‘La mia esperienza con gli editori italiani’ (Mondi migranti, 3, 2017, pp. 255-259)

 

Translations into Foreign Languages

English 

‘Ana de Jesus’ [Translation of ‘Ana de Jesus’ by Rodolfo A. Franconi and Graziella Parati] in Mediterranean Crossroads: Migration Literature in Italy ed. by Graziella Parati (Madison, Teaneck: Fairleigh Dickinson University Presses; London: Associated University Presses, 1999, pp. 162-164)

‘The B-Line’ and ‘The Beggar’ [Translation of ‘Linea B’ and ‘Il mendicante’ by Carmen Di Cinque] in Multicultural Literature in Contemporary Italy ed. by Marie Orton and Graziella Parati (Madison, Teaneck: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2007, pp. 54-63)

German

Am Grunde des Auges [Translation of ‘In fondo all’occhio’ by Stefanie Golisch] (Matrix. Zeitschrift für Literatur und Kunst, 24, 2011, pages unvailable)

Portuguese

500 Temporais [Translation of 500 temporali by Roberta Barni] (Rio de Janeiro: Mar de Idéias Navegação Cultural, 2011)

 

Criticism

Barbarulli, Clotilde: ‘Una riflessione su Christiana de Caldas Brito’ (Kúmá: Creolizzare l’Europa, 7, 2003)

—: ‘Lo spazio liquido della parola nei testi di De Caldas Brito’ in Scrittrici migranti. La lingua, il caos, una stella (Pisa: Edizioni ETS, 2010, pp. 47-58)

Bocchinfuso, Gianluca: ‘Scritture di donne e di acqua. Le storie di Christiana De Caldas Brito’ (Il segnale. Percorsi di ricerca letteraria, 83, 2009, pp. 19-24)

Cacciatori, Remo: ‘Su tre scrittori transculturali. Christiana e la scrittura emotiva’ (El-ghibli: Rivista online di letteratura della migrazione, 15 January 2017) available online at https://www.el-ghibli.org/su-tre-scrittori-transculturali/

—: ‘Colpo di mare’ (El-ghibli: Rivista online di letteratura della migrazione, 25 October 2018) available online at http://www.el-ghibli.org/colpo-di-mare/

Camilotti, Silvia: Tre voci di scrittrici migranti: Nassera Chora, Jarmila Ockayova, Christiana de Caldas Brito. MA dissertation (University of Venice Ca’ Foscari, 2003)

—: ‘Writing from and on the Border: Christiana de Caldas Brito’s Narratives’ (Dimensões, 26, 2011, pp. 76-88)

Castro, Maria Chiara: La vita e le storie di Christiana de Caldas Brito, contadora de histórias. MA dissertation (Università degli Studi di Catania, 2019)

Catalano, Roberta Yasmine: ‘Colpo di mare, di Christiana de Caldas Brito’ (Noi Donne, 25 June 2018) available online at https://www.noidonne.org/articoli/colpo-di-mare-di-christiana-de-caldas-brito-14984.php

Comberiati, Daniele: ‘Christiana de Caldas Brito: il «portuliano» e i giochi liguistici’ in Scrivere nella lingua dellaltro. La letteratura degli immigrati in Italia (1989-2007) (Brussels: Peter Lang, 2010, pp. 83-92)

Corio, Alessandro: ‘La metamorfosi della parola nella scrittura di Christiana de Caldas Brito’ (El-ghibli: Rivista online di letteratura della migrazione, 11, 2006) available online at http://archivio.el-ghibli.org/index.php%3Fid=1&issue=02_11&section=6&index_pos=3.html

Cutolo, Vincenzo: ‘I racconti di Christiana de Caldas Brito’ (Lo stato delle cose: Pensiero critico e scritture, 7, 1999, pp. 113-117)

Dorigo Salamon, Marta: Christiana de Caldas Brito: una scrittrice di fiabe moderne’ (Kúmá: Creolizzare l’Europa, 11, 2006)

Ergin, Meliz: ‘Whose Hostage? Irregular Migration and the Struggle for Recongition’ (Forum Italicum, 50.1, 2016, pp. 143-161)

Gnisci, Armando: ‘Chris’ in L’educazione del te (Roma: Sinnos, 2009, pp. 61-82)

Kiemle, Christiane: Ways out of Babel: Linguistic and Cultural Diversity in Contemporary Literature in Italy. Exploring Multilingualism in the Works of Immigrated Writers (Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag, 2011)

Marfè, Luigi: ‘Italian Counter-travel Writing: Images of Italy in Contemporary Migration Literature’ (Studies in Travel Writing, 16.2, 2012, pp. 191-201)

Mauceri, M. Cristina: ‘Cultural Encounters and Clashes around the Table: Food in Migrant Writing in Italy’ in Food in Postcolonial and Migrant Literatures/La Nourriture dans les littératures postcoloniales et migrantes ed. by Michela Canepari and Alba Pessini (Bern: Peter Lang, 2011, pp. 257-270)

—: ‘Riso amaro? L’umorismo come rimedio contro il razzismo in Lakhous, Wadia e de Caldas Brito’ (reCHERches. Scrivere altrove/Écrire ailleurs ed. by Anna Frabetti and Laura Toppan, 10, 2013, pp. 69-82)

Michelacci, Lara: ‘«Se avete occhi per leggere, ascoltate». Percorsi di lettura e scrittura in Amanda, Olinda, Azzurra e le altre di Christiana de Caldas Brito’ (Scritture migranti, 6, 2012, pp. 157-171)

Portelli, Alessandro: ‘Fingertips Stained with Ink’ (Interventions, 8.3, 2006, pp. 472-483)

Rimmaudo, Valentina, Sconfinamenti letterari: la narrativa italiana della brasiliana Christiana de Caldas Brito. MA dissertation (Università degli Studi di Trento, 2018)

Sabelli, Sonia: ‘Transnational Identities and the Subversion of the Italian Language in Geneviève Makaping, Christiana de Caldas Britoand Jarmila Ockayová’ (Dialectical Anthropology, 29.3-4, 2005, pp. 439-451)

—: ‘I corpi e le voci delle “altre”: genere e migrazioni in Christiana de Caldas Brito e Fernanda Faria de Albuquerque’ in Questioni di genere: tra vecchi e nuovi pregiudizi e nuove o presunte libertà ed. by Margaret Durst and Sonia Sabelli (Pisa: ETS, 2013, pp. 185-208)

Sinopoli, Franca: ‘Introduzione’ in Christiana de Caldas Brito: Amanda Olinda Azzurra e le altre (Rome: Lilith Edizioni, 1998, pp. 7-9)

—: ‘Postfazione’ in Christiana de Caldas Brito: Amanda Olinda Azzurra e le altre (Salerno: Oèdipus, 2004, pp. 115-118)

Taddeo, Raffaele [ed.]: Christiana de Caldas Brito (El-ghibli: Rivista online di letteratura della migrazione, Supplement, 16, 2007) available online at http://archivio.el-ghibli.org/index.php%3Fid=2&issue=04_16&sezione=0.html

 

Interviews/in the Media

Barbarulli, Clotilde: ‘Ho camminato fino alla fine del mare: Intervista a Christina de Caldas Brito’ (Letterate Magazine, 42, 2013) available online at http://www.societadelleletterate.it/2013/03/intervista-a-christiana-de-caldas-brito/

Bocchinfuso, Gianluca: ‘ Il mare che ci portiamo dentro. A colloquio con Christiana de Caldas Brito sul suo romanzo Colpo di mare’ (Il Segnale,113, 2019, pp. 7-16)

Bregola, Davide: ‘Cristiana de Caldas Brito. Giocare con le parole’ in Da qui verso casa (Rome: Edizioni Interculturali, 2002, pp. 96-103)

Mauceri, M. Cristina: ‘Le parole liberano l’anima: A colloquio con Christiana de Caldas Brito’ (Kúmá: Creolizzare l’Europa, 8, 2004) available online at https://web.archive.org/web/20131122173730/http://www.disp.let.uniroma1.it/kuma/kuma8.html

—: ‘Colpo di mare di Christiana de Caldas Brito. Intervista a Christiana de Caldas Brito sul suo nuovo romanzo Colpo di mare (Effigi, 2018)’ (Mondita review, 11 October 2018) available online at www.mondita.it/colpo-di-mare/

Serra, Carla: ‘Una lingua lavata e stesa al sole: Intervista con Christiana de Caldas Brito’ (Nae: trimestrale di cultura, 16, 2006, pages unavailable)

Ubax Ali Farah, Cristina: ‘Intervista a Christiana de Caldas Brito’ (El-ghibli: Rivista online di letteratura della migrazione, 7, 2005) available online at http://archivio.el-ghibli.org/index.php%3Fid=1&issue=01_07&section=6&index_pos=2.html

Video

‘Confronti: Christiana de Caldas Brito’ (Abitare, Vivere, Scrivere l’italiano. Scrittori e scrittrici si madrelingua straniera si raccontano, Società Dante Alighieri, 3 June 2020, 6.04mins) available online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lMyx_FrBqQ

 

 

Compiled by Maria Cristina Mauceri (Sydney)