In this latest translated novel by one of Brazil's premiere fiction writers, a desperate man named Oséias decides to return to his hometown after twenty years away. He visits with family members and old friends, trying to assuage his deep loneliness and lasting sorrow over his sister's death at fifteen.
Ruffato subtly weaves in criticism and social issues in the narrative ... his straightforward, sometimes sad, sometimes brutally honest language also wraps you into a cocoon: you find yourself wandering the cobbled streets of an industrial Brazilian town, a place in a time that never returns. But there’s a disquiet and ruthless attentiveness hidden in the words. It’s not the umpteenth story about a man coming to terms with his inevitable end. He shows how defenseless we all are. Late Summer reflects on loneliness, existential angst, and our human ambivalences. Ruffato neatly categorizes the chaotic structure of a Brazilian man’s consciousness wrapped up in memories of the past. The inevitable structural changes in Cataguases and the influence of time has blurred Oséias memory, 'like a photograph that fades little by little until suddenly it’s only a series of whitish smudges without meaning.'
... a hypnotic translation by Julia Sanches ... The motif of silence, this ever-present ellipsis, becomes, in Ruffato’s hands, double-edged. In certain instances, he wields it to contrast the noisy complexity of adulthood/modernity with a simpler, sepia-tinged time, frequently resurrected by Oséias in passages that bleed together past and present ... Nevertheless, silence also marks the uncomfortable present, distancing the characters from one another ... While the other characters, especially the women, often come off flat—the author’s zeal to show the larger societal forces at work transforms them into types—we learn that João Lúcio has lovingly maintained the family crypt, that he hosts his employees at his country estate on weekends, that he may not know what to say to Oséias, but he welcomes him into his fancy, modern home ... It’s in this propulsive rhythm where Sanches’ translation most shines, handling the staccato reiteration of subject-verb-object with aplomb, and buoying the author’s stylistic experimentation with a few tricks up English’s sleeve ... What makes Ruffato’s oeuvre so relatable to American readers is precisely that face of Brazil we so rarely glimpse from the outside: its multiculturalism, its messy modernity and glaring inequities, the way collectively it, too, chooses silence rather than confront its own shortcomings—until it’s too late.
... it’s not the notes that Ruffato plays that matter, but the notes he doesn’t ... As for the town itself, Ruffato does a skillful job of characterizing in a way that makes it seem more than just some provincial setting for his narrative to play out (it’s his own hometown, after all) ... Stripped of paragraph breaks or typical divisions between speakers, interrupted with idle thoughts that distract Oséias from his immediate train of thought, Late Summer’s continuous prose embeds the reader so intimately within Oséias’s story that it becomes even easier to identify with the man as he feels carried along toward the inevitable ... Ruffato gives us a quiet novel about loneliness, the universal human desire to be seen and felt, and the slow cost of isolation.