Despite having good writers, Brazil has not yet won the literature Nobel Prize. Several of its Latin American brothers won. There were six in all. Chileans Gabriela Mistral (1945) and Pablo Neruda (1971), Guatemalan Miguel Ángel Asturias (1967), Colombian Gabriel García Márquez (1982), Mexican Octavio Paz (1990) and Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa (2010).
Maybe it’s because of the language, to this day only a Portuguese language writer, José Saramago won the award, and that was in 1998.
I remember reading about an interview by a Brazilian journalist to a Chilean writer where the journalist mentioned the fact that Brazil had never won any Nobel prize while Chile had won twice and both in literature. That Brazil has never won a Nobel Prize is not entirely true. Sir Peter Brian Medavar, son of a Lebanese and an Englishwoman, also had Brazilian nationality and won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1960, but it is clear that he was not very Brazilian.
I really liked the reaction of the Chilean writer. He said that Brazil compensated for never winning a literature Nobel Prize with the music and the poetry of the Brazilian music, which he said had no equal in the world. He was being very polite and generous, but I totally agree with him. Who can match the lyrics by Vinícius de Moraes, Paulo César Pinheiro, Aldir Blanc, João Nogueira, Paulinho da Viola, Martinho da Vila, Noel Rosa, Antônio Maria, Dolores Duran, Cartola, Gianfrancesco Guarnieri, Geraldo Vandré, Paulo Vanzolini, Chico Buarque, Caetano Veloso and many others.
I watched, at least ten years ago with friends, an Ivan Lins’ show, where he told the story of the song “Emoldurada” literally “Framed” in the sense of an framed image, which he sang next. Ivan who was fan of the Salgueiro samba school in Rio de Janeiro, asked his partner Celso Viáfora, a Salgueiro composer and number one fan of the school to make a song about the Portela samba school to please Ivan’s wife, who was a Portela’s fan. I think it was their anniversary, I don’t remember exactly.
Celso refused and said he was not going to do it because being a fan of Salgueiro he could never make a song exalting Portela. Besides, he would be shunned by Salgueiro’s other composers and friends. Ivan insisted so much that in the end he gave in and they collaborated making the song. If you pay attention you will see that the music simple lyrics clearly shows the emotion of the composer watching Portela parading in front of the crowd, but without letting it show. One of the poetic jewels of Brazilian music. You can listen to the song in Portuguese in the link below.
Reflected in her eyes’ light
And on the canvas of my beloved’s gaze
I singed for us
I cried for her
With Monarco and Paulinho da Viola
Being the one who always cried for another school
I loved Portela for her
There, at that moment