Adriana Lisboa


© Julie Harris


Adriana Lisboa was born in Rio de Janeiro. With degrees in Music and Literature, she is the author of ten widely translated fiction books, among which five novels, a collection of flash fiction, and books for children. She was hailed as a new star of Brazilian literature after the publication of her 2001 novel Symphony in White (“Sinfonia em Branco”), which received the prestigious José Saramago Prize. In 2007, she was selected by the Hay Festival/Bogotá World Book Capital as one of the 39 highest profile Latin American writers under the age of 39. She has also been longlisted for the International Impac Dublin Literary Award 2015 with her novel Azul-Corvo.



When David discovers that he has terminal brain cancer, he decides to put his affairs in order. Then he meets Alex, a young mother who had an affair with a married man, and his fast-dwindling life gets a new sense of purpose. As the two of them slowly get closer, they learn that they are both descendants of immigrants: Alex’s grandmother and mother come from Vietnam, David’s parents are from Mexico and Brazil. While David, not wanting to die in Chicago, makes plans for his last journey to Hanói, the place where Alex’s mother was born, Alex in turn still hopes for a miracle.

In her characteristic poetic style, Adriana Lisboa insightfully takes up the topic of the finiteness of life and how people deal with it, creating a moving story with very real characters.


Adriana Lisboa transports us much further than we’ve ever been.

O Globo


Hanói deals with the fragility of existence with skilful levity.

Folha de S. Paulo


In her novel Crow-Blue (“Azul-corvo”), Adriana Lisboa tells an unusual road-story about growing-up and the search for one’s roots, simultaneously allowing for an intriguing glimpse at the life of the Brazilian guerillas. When her mother dies, thirteen-year-old Vanja moves to her stepfather in the US, an ex-guerilla from Brazil where he gained a reputation for being a relentless fighter. There she goes looking for her biological father, following her mother’s footsteps and finding out who she really is. The novel has been longlisted for the International Impac Dublin Literary Award 2015.


One of the young revelations in Portuguese literature.



Playing with language, this extraordinary novel is full of poetic twists and turns.




Symphony in white (“Sinfonia em branco”), the internationally-acclaimed novel by prize-winning Brazilian author Adriana Lisboa, follows the journeys – literal, chronological, and metaphysical – of two sisters raised in the apparently tranquil backlands of Brazil in the sixties and educated in teeming Rio de Janeiro in the seventies. Sisters who share dark secrets that affect every step of their way as they finally face their past so that they might at last embrace their future. It is the moving story that covers four decades of a family where ugly truths are kept hidden, secret, unspoken, paralleling the years of the Brazilian dictatorship when everyone knew that atrocities were being committed, but no one dared speak of them.

As the complex but seemingly simple narrative shifts back and forth in space and time, each new revelation imparts added dimensions and more depth to the characters as well as to the narrative, which little by little builds up to unveil astonishing revelations and a shattering climax.

But Symphony in white is much more than compelling storytelling or a novel of Brazilian manners and culture. Lisboa also makes numerous references to music and art throughout the novel, which in itself is not unlike a symphony where each character’s storyline represents a different instrument of a symphonic score, resulting in a dramatic and powerful work of great beauty and harmony. Add to that the pure pleasure of Lisboa’s eloquent metaphors, her lyrical, poetic prose, and her unexpected word choices, which allow the reader to examine the dark abysses of the human soul within a framework as delicate as the flight of a butterfly. Like all great literature, Sinfonia em branco is a book of universal appeal that transcends all geographic borders.

Sarah Green


The most enchanting novel of the season. Unmissable.



Adriana Lisboa effectively succeeds in capturing the poetry inherent in the everyday, weaving her words into a symphony of silences.

Henrique Rodrigues, A Tribuna da Imprensa


Sinfonia em Branco is the proof of an excellent writer and a vital sign of life indicating the very latest in Brazilian literature awaiting our discovery, urgently so...

José Eduardo Agualusa


We have here a writer for now and for later.

José Saramago on the occasion of awarding the José Saramago Prize


In Rakushisha Adriana Lisboa invites us to discover, alongside her characters, the simplicity and beauty of the poetry of Matsuo Basho, a pioneer of the Haikai style: the art of saying the most possible with the minimum of words. Rakushisha is a journey to Japan seen through the eyes of two Brazilians: Haruki and Celina.

Starting from a fleeting encounter in a metro station in Rio de Janeiro, where both live, they end up taking their furthest ever trip from home: they travel together to Japan. Due to the isolation caused by the cultural diffence, this adventure ultimately becomes an interior journey, a journey to the untouched feelings and secrets of each one. Through the alternate narration of Haruki and Celina emerge Basho’s haikais, and thus the reader discovers Basho’s translator in Brazil is Haruki’s great unrequited love, and that Celina’s sad eyes conceal a great tragedy in her life. Rakushisha is a delicate novel, to be grasped with both hands, as the Japonese hold their objects.


In A Colombina Kiss (“Um beijo de Colombina”) Teresa, a talented writer from Rio de Janeiro, has rented a house near the beach, where she spends her days writing or sleeping, and at the end of the afternoon she goes out to swim in the sea. One day, Teresa does not return, and her body is not found. Back in the house, her boyfriend was waiting for her, finding a poem by the great Brazilian poet, Manuel Bandeira: ‘In the waves of the beach, in the waves of the sea, I want to be happy, I want to drown’. A Colombina Kiss is narrated by him, and, as if to put his feelings in order, he dives into the universe she left behind, thus getting to know better the woman he lived with and coming to understand his feelings for her. ‘Love is a million small things’ is a line that appears in this novel and sums it up perfectly. The narration is light of touch and sensitive, patient and free of anguish. The final chapter of the book has a surprise in store for the reader, shedding a new light on all that has gone before, enclosing one fiction within another.


On the seashore, a mermaid and a butterfly catcher fall in love. So goes the story The Mermaid and the Butterfly Catcher ("A sereia e o caçador de borboletas") about this one magic meeting, because the butterfly catcher, who in fact was never hunting butterflies but just observing and admiring them, does not know how to swim or fly, and the mermaid cannot leave the water. The destiny of some Portuguese sailors, who have been on a voyage for three hundred years, depends on a repeat meeting between the mermaid and the butterfly catcher. Fortunately, they do meet up again, because a butterfly has taught the butterfly catcher to fly, so enabling he and the mermaid to meet once more, at which point the sailors consider their sea voyage to be over.


The book helps its young readers to develop their concepts of love, freedom, the masculine and the feminine and art. The cohesion that exists between the illustrations and the text is magnificent. Adriana and Rui have produced a great book for young and old alike.

Jornal do Brasil



A moving and poetic novel about the fragility of people's destiny, The Heart Sometimes Stops Beating (“O coração às vezes para de bater”) is the unburdening of a 15-year-old boy who writes letters to a hospitalized friend. Coming from different social backgrounds, the two are cariocas of Rio de Janeiro and share a passion for skateboarding. In short, fast and precise flashes, the protagonist makes an inventory of the joys and sorrows of a teenager today, including difficulties with his family, social relations, and the discovery of love in a city like Rio de Janeiro.


Visit the author’s website:






Hanói, Rio de Janeiro: Alfaguara 2013, 240 p.

English sample translation by Alison Entrekin available

Argentina: Edhasa (Spanish world rights) 2015 France: Métailié 2015 Italy: Nuova Frontiera 2014




Rio de Janeiro: Rocco 2010, 219 p.

Longlisted for the International Impac Dublin Literary Award 2015

Argentina: Edhasa 2011 (Spanish world rights) China: Central Compilation Translation Press France: Métailié 2013 Italy: Nuova Frontiera 2013 Norway: Tigerforlaget 2015 Poland: Rebis 2019 Portugal: Quetzal 2012 Serbia: Clio 2012 UK: Bloomsbury 2013 Ukraine: Calvaria


Rakushisha, Rio de Janeiro: Rocco 2007, 132 p.

Longlisted for the International Impac Dublin Literary Award 2013

Cuba: Casa de las Américas Italy: Angelica Editore 2010 Portugal: Quetzal 2009 Romania: Univers 2014 USA: Texas Tech University Press 2011


A Colombina Kiss

(“Um beijo de Colombina”)

Rio de Janeiro: Rocco 2003, 135 p.

Portugal: Temas e Debates 2005 Sweden: Boca Pocky 2005


Symphony in white

(“Sinfonia em branco”)

Rio de Janeiro: Rocco 2001, Alfaguara 2013, 320 p.

Albania: Dudaj China: Central Compilation Translation Press Croatia: Hena-Com Egypt: El Arabi 2014 France: Métailié 2009 Germany: Aufbau 2013 Italy: Angelica Editore 2008 Mexico: Alfaguara 2009 Poland: Rebis 2016 Portugal: Temas e Debates 2003 Romania: Univers 2013 Slovenia: Modrijan Zalozba 2017 Turkey: Kirmizi Kedi 2014 USA: Texas Tech University Press 2010


The Threads of Memory

(“Os fios da memória”)

Rio de Janeiro: Rocco 1999, 221 p.




The Success

(“O Sucesso”)

Rio de Janeiro: Alfaguara 2016



Short Prose:



Rio de Janeiro: Rocco 2004, 92 p.



For young readers:

A King Without Majesty

(“Um rei sem majestade”)

Rio de Janeiro, Rocco 2018, 31 p.
Illustration by Lúcia Brandão


The Mermaid and the Butterfly Catcher

(“A sereia e o caçador de borboletas”)

Rio de Janeiro: Rocco 2009, 46 p.

Illustration by Rui de Oliveira

Complete English and Spanish translation availaible


Japanese Folk Tales

(“Contos populares japoneses”)

Rio de Janeiro: Rocco 2008, 86 p.

Illustration by Janaina Tokitaka

Highly recommended by the Brazilian International Board on Books for Young People – IBBY

Italy: Graphe 2013


The Heart Sometimes Stops Beating

(“O coração às vezes pára de bater”)

São Paulo: Publifolha 2007, 79 p.

Argentina: Santillana 2016 Switzerland: La Joie de Lire 2009 (French language)


Language of Rags

(“Língua de trapos”)

Rio de Janeiro: Rocco 2005, 36 p.

Highly recommended by the Brazilian International Board on Books for Young People – IBBY



Participation in anthologies:

Brésil 25 – 2000-2015

France: Métailié 2015


Cuentos en tránsito. Antología de narrativa brasileña

Argentina: Alfaguara 2014


Other Carnivals: New Stories from Brazil

UK: Full Circle 2013


Microcontos. Minigeschichten aus Brasilien

Germany: dtv 2013


Popcorn unterm Zuckerhut. Junge brasilianische Literatur

Germany: Wagenbach 2013


Brasilien berättar: Ljud av steg

Sweden: Tranan 2011


Dicionário amoroso da língua portuguesa

Portugal: Casa da Palvra 2009

(Ed. By Marcelo Moutinho)


Antología de cuento latinoamericano

Colombia: Ediciones B 2007


Bogotá 39 (Almendros), Bogotá: Ediciones B 2007, 413 p.

Spain: Círculo de Lectores 2013


Lusofônica – La nuova narrativa in lingua portughese

Italy: La Nuova Frontiera 2006


25 mulheres que estão fazendo a nova literatura brasileira (org. Luiz Ruffato)

Brazil: Record 2004




Pequena música

São Paulo: Iluminuras 2018, 96 p.


Lavar a Alma-Soul Washing

Berkeley: Center for Latin American Studies 2014


Parte da paisagem

São Paulo: Iluminuras 2014, 120 p.