In eighteen stories, Caio Fernando Abreu navigates a Brazil transformed by the AIDS epidemic and stifling military dictatorship of the 80s. Suspended between fear and longing, Abreu's characters grasp for connection.
With attention to the social and political weight of the everyday, Abreu’s disillusioned bohemians pepper Moldy Strawberries with existential questions about the meaning of friendship and the contradictory nature of love ... a polyvocal, cultural, and literary hybridity that speaks to its national and global context as it does to the author’s intimate feelings ... Abreu attends to those gestures of loving amid a sinister world, how they gleam among the detritus of, as Wojnarowicz put it, the pre-invented world ... Weighing down humor and the surreal with the concrete realities of living with illness, Moldy Strawberries forces the tradition of social satire to bulge at the seams. It’s a collection that is as hilarious as it is heartbreaking, vaulting existential questions across the page while poking fun at the urge to ask them in the first place, both yearning for and laughing at utopian visions of the past. The strawberry fields of the 1960s and ’70s have grown moldy, but, in Abreu’s writing, within the mulch lies the promise of the new, a chance to start again.
... exuberant ... These eighteen stories are intimate, focusing on internal examinations of personal sacrifices and desires, desperate struggles to connect and survive, and honest moments between two people. They distill flashes of joy, despair, and lust into crystalline moments of flickering emotion. Long, vibrant sentences and powerful imagery ground their feelings ... This collection amplifies the lives of people who were often disregarded or dismissed by a Brazilian society in flux. Its stories vibrate with emotion and honesty, conveyed through distinct voices and strong imagery by a confident and deft writer.
... surprising and provocative ... vivid translation ... Abreu’s prose shimmers and always surprises—each story is a small, bright gem. The fearless writing in this beautiful collection deserves a vast English-language readership.