Adriana Lisboa

Brazilian novelist Adriana Lisboa was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1970 and has worked as a musician and translator. Her five novels and three children’s books include Symphony in White, which in 2003 won the José Saramago Prize, awarded to a literary work in Portuguese by a young author. Lisboa lives in Colorado, US.

Which book changed your life?

A book about Buddhism by French author Alexandra David-Néel, Le Bouddhisme du Bouddha, 15 years ago or so.

When did you know you were going to be a writer?

I never knew. I began writing in my childhood and never stopped.

What is the strangest thing you’ve done when researching a book?

I vampirise real-life episodes people tell me but I guess every writer does that.

Who are your literary influences?

They change so much, depending on the year, the month …Currently it’s Paul Harding’s Tinkers, [American poet] Elizabeth Spires, WS Merwin’s poems and Miranda July’s stories.

Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with?

Noam Chomsky.

What are you scared of?

Being lost in intricate elaborations about the future and forgetting what’s going on in my life right now.

What keeps you awake at night?

Precisely that. As master Yoda would say, “Always looking to the future this one is.”

When were you happiest?

When I was a child and spent summers at my grandfather’s farm in the state of Rio. I walked barefoot and climbed trees for three months.

When do you feel most free?

When I do what feels right without being concerned with other people’s opinions.

Which books are on your bedside table?

Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being, Philip Levine’s What Work Is and Noam Chomsky’s Power Systems.

What is the best piece of advice a parent gave you?

My mother once said that I expected too much from life. I remember this every time I need to recognise that life is the sum of ups and downs – and that this is actually OK.

What would you go back and change?

I would have left the wrong guys much sooner that I did.

What book do you wish you’d written?

Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse.

Where is your favourite place in the world?

The botanic gardens in Rio, on weekdays.

What does it mean to be a writer?

Nothing special, I guess. Some of us are just introverts who happen to like stories and poems.

Adriana Lisboa’s latest novel is ‘Crow Blue’ (Bloomsbury). She is appearing at Flipside, a new festival of Brazilian literature, music and the arts, Snape Maltings, Suffolk, October 4-6

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