December 4, 2013


The Latina Book Club's mission is to promote Latina / Latino authors. We do this through book reviews, author interviews, publicity announcements, book of the month selections, etc. A new popular feature we added this year is "Writers Wednesdays." The first Wednesday of each month, we will feature a writer talking about ...writing.
       Note:  Joao’s translator Karen Bennett will present A TRAGÉDIA DE FIDEL CASTRO AND ITS AMERICAN AVATAR at the international conference Version, Subversion: translation, the canon and its discontents--An International Conference on Literary Translation – at the Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto on December 12-14 in Portugal.  Click here to see the conference’s program.  Happy Reading!
I admit it; I want to punch my readers,
but before I do, I try to make them laugh."
– Joao

Throwing a literary punch
by João Cerqueira

When I started thinking about the plot and the characters I should include in The Tragedy of Fidel Castro, I established two criteria: I had to create an original story, something that nobody had ever written before, and I had to write it with great literary quality – the best I had in me. Only then would I have any means to stand out in contemporary literature. Repeating what had already been written hundreds of times, introducing slight variations to convince myself that I had created an original story was not the path I would be taking.

Unfortunately, there is always a price to pay for anyone trying to create literary fiction, instead of stories about vampires, zombies or Vatican conspiracies. A talentless scribe, who skillfully glues together all the necessary pieces of a plot – following rules set out in creative writing courses and befitting manuals – may find a literary agent and get published by a major publisher. While a writer gifted with great imagination and a great command of the language, may never get to publish his or her manuscript. As I have already written in another text, vampires are sucking the blood out of literature and zombies are rotting it away. And, as to another conspiracy in the Vatican, I refer to the words of Jesus Christ himself: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”.

On the other hand, after having written the satire A culpa é destaliberdades! I realized that humor and irony where the literary tools that most naturally spewed forth from my creative mind. In the same way that during a conversation this way of replying to someone or of making a comment on something comes out of my mouth without even thinking, my texts can’t escape this desire to satirize the world and human behavior.  And it’s not hard to find a source of inspiration, because the human being is, in part, a ridiculous being – a simple pair of socks is enough to ruin a reputation.

Agua by Joao Cerqueira
Recently, I read a critique of Shakespeare’s work, where it was said, among other qualities, his genius lay in the subtle movement from comedy to tragedy, catching the reader unawares. Well, this is the same as what I’m trying to do – especially in the next book I am going to publish, The Second Coming of Christ to Earth. Throughout the work I try to make the reader laugh, satirizing politics and religion – in The Tragedy of Fidel Castro I imagined existentialist exchanges between God and Jesus – before going on to throw a powerful punch right in the reader’s stomach. I admit it; I want to punch my readers, but before I do, I try to make them laugh. Could there be anything more perverse?

People may be right when they say that behind every crime writer stands someone with an itch to kill, or that writers who torture their characters reveal some unconscious desire to do so, or even that if some writers were not to write, they would be in an insane asylum or out committing atrocities. There is a tiny Marquis de Sade hidden behind every writer.

And there you have the true motive behind why there are more and more people taking up this profession. Nevertheless, those who write about shades of grey, shades of vampires, shades of zombies or shades of conspiracies aren’t the most dangerous ones. Those are the other ones.###

REVIEW:   THE TRAGEDY OF FIDEL CASTRO is satire at its finest. It’s thought-provoking, sardonic, ridiculous, engaging, outrageous and hysterical. Click here for the full review.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  João Cerqueira holds a PhD in art history from the University of Oporto. He writers fiction and non-fiction, including BLAME IT ON TOO MUCH FREEDOM, DEVIL’S OBSERVATIONS, ART AND LITERATURE IN THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR and MARIA PIA: QUEEN AND WOMAN. Excerpts of his books have appeared in numerous periodicals, including The Liberator Magazine and Danse Macabre. To learn more about this author visit him at