Vanessa Barbara


© Nino Andrés



Vanessa Barbara was born in São Paulo in 1982 and is a journalist, translator, and writer. She also edits the literary website A Hortaliça ( and is a columnist for the national daily newspaper Estado de S. Paulo. In 2012, she was selected as one of the twenty new promising authors in Brazilian literature by Granta magazine. She has won the national Jabuti prize for journalism and the Prémio Paraná de Literatura in the category unedited novel with Operação impensável. She has a monthly column in the New York Times:


O louco de palestra (“The Lecture-Hall Lunatic”) is a brilliant collection of Vanessa Barbara’s most entertaining chronicles about her neighbourhood in São Paulo, its unique inhabitants and their charming habits, together with her astute observations of contemporary urban life around the world. With her singularly insightful way of writing, full of humour and irony, her stories irresistibly draw the readers in, no matter where they’re from.

The chronicles were originally published in leading newspapers and magazines like Folha de S. Paulo and O Estado de S. Paulo.


A creative eye.



A young author who writes like one of the greats.

Gazeta do Povo Curitiba



Chock full of highly entertaining characters all trying to hide a secret, Noites de Alface (“Lettuce Nights”) captures village life at its most vivid.

When Otto’s wife Ada dies after fifty years of marriage, he finds his quiet life disrupted by his neighbours’ intrusions: a pharmacist addicted to investigating side effects, a young anthropologist who watches her favourite Eskimo video each night, and a singing mailman who keeps getting his addressees mixed up. As Otto starts gathering evidence of an obscure incident in which Ada appears to have been involved, not even her recipe for lettuce tea helps him sleep.

Subtly creating bizarre situations, Vanessa Barbara immediately transports the reader into a world he will be loath to leave.


A woman of style.

Marie-Claire Brazil


Noites de Alface has humour with substance.

Folha de S. Paulo


Bizarre, ambiguous, absurd - and with a hint of magic realism. The village of the novel lies in a kind of land of milk and honey for good stories, in close neighbourhood to Fargo by Joel and Ethan Coen.




In the four-handed novel O verão do Chibo (“The Summer of Chibo“), a boy no more than seven years old, immersed in a very singular universe, describes his adventures during his summer vacation in the middle of a corn field in the company of his friends. But this is a different summer. Because Chibo, his older brother, mysteriously disappears, and all the other boys seem to do the same.

This is a subtle work, often humorous, other times touching, about the mysteries that surround growing up. It was a finalist in the Prêmio São Paulo de Literatura.



A little gem about the mysteries that surround becoming a grown-up.

O Estado de S. Paulo


Another world in miniature, with lyricism and absurdity to match the fantasies and traumas of childhood.

Folha de S. Paulo






Noites de Alface

Rio de Janeiro: Alfaguara 2013, 166 p.

English and Dutch sample translation available

Czech Republic: Albatros France: Zulma 2015 Germany: A1 Verlag 2014 Italy: Corbaccio (Mauri Spagnol) 2014 Sweden: Natur & Kultur 2014


O verão do Chibo

Together with Emílio Fraia

Rio de Janeiro: Alfaguara 2008, 120 p.

Shortlisted for the São Paulo Literature Prize

English and German sample translation available



Graphic novels:

A máquina de Goldberg

(Ill. by Fido Nesti)

São Paulo: Companhia das Letras 2012, 112 p.



Chronicles and short stories:

O louco de palestra

São Paulo: Companhia das Letras 2014, 200 p.


São Paulo 1971-2011: História recente, versões literárias, resíduos visuais

(with Luiz Ruffato, Ignácio de Loyola Brandão and Tony Bellotto)

São Paulo: Ed. Olhares 2012, 160 p.


O livro amarelo do terminal

São Paulo: Cosac Naify 2008, 253 p.

Jabuti Prize for Journalism

APCA Prize 2008



Books for young readers:

Endrigo, o escavador de umbigo

(Ill. by Andrés Sandoval)

São Paulo: Ed. 34 2011, 48 p.



Participation in anthologies:

Cuentos en tránsito. Antología de narrativa brasileña

Buenos Aires: Alfaguara 2014, 225 p.

(Story La fila)



Represented for Riff Agency