In this 100th anniversary edition of the final novel by the acclaimed Brazilian novelist, cosmopolitan Rodrigo S.M. recounts his relationship with Macabéa, one of life's unfortunates, whose material dire straights juxtapose the outwardly cushy but inwardly empty life of the narrator.
Lispector’s final novel, her most accessible (not a word typically associated with this writer), her most concretely grounded in a specific place, Rio de Janeiro, and time, the present, is a masterwork of interrogation ... a 12-tone narrative that bangs along and promises no tidy conclusion ... Whether through direct address or the urban intensity and flat out strangeness of the prose, the reader cannot lurk behind the book’s spine, but rather is constantly called upon ... This call for an answer, for the reader’s participation in the act of storytelling, is all the more evident in Moser’s translation, which is truer to the original Portuguese than the version published by the esteemed British translator and scholar Giovanni Pontiero in 1986.
... The Hour of the Star [contains] all her talents and eccentricities merged and folded in a densely self-conscious narrative ... The Hour of the Star is like being brought backstage during the performance of a play and allowed odd glimpses of the actors and the audience, and further and more intense glimpses of the mechanics of the theatre—the scene and costume changes, the creation of artifice—with many interruptions by the backstage staff. It is to be told in ironic, maybe mocking, whispers by the box office on the way out that those glimpses were in fact the whole performance, plotted out with care and attention by a writer who is still nervously watching from somewhere close, or somewhere in the distance, who may or may not even exist. Nothing is stable in the text ... a Brazil that is almost too real in the limits it sets on the characters' lives and a Brazil of the mind and the imagination, made vast by the way in which words and images, and shifts of tone and texture, are deployed by Lispector in her mysterious swan song. As the French critic Hélène Cixous has written, The Hour of the Star 'is a text on poverty that is not poor.' It has a way of being knowing and mysterious, garrulous and oddly refined. It withholds and it tells too much. It makes sweeping judgments and tiny observations. It is a meditation on two types of powerlessness, each one stark and distinct.