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Additional Information
ISBN: 9781949641059
Pages: 168
Size: 4.5 x 7
Publication Date: November 10, 2020
Distributed By: Publishers Group West


by João Gilberto Noll
Translated from Portuguese by
Edgar Garbelotto

“Noll is a hero of Brazilian literature who deserves to be widely known in the English-speaking world and this fascinating shape-shifting novel is a wonderful introduction to his work.” —Jenny Offill, author of Weather

“Noll is a master of prose, one of Brazil’s true literary icons.”
—Literary Hub

Like an Edenic Adam birthed from the clay, our narrator rises to his feet from the muck—reborn, or something like that. Unbeknownst to him, he’s on a desperate search for Harmada, the capital city of an unnamed nation and the land of his former glory. Told using Noll’s characteristic fragmented logic and spirited prose, Harmada traces the life of this nameless man on a voyage that takes him from aimless outcast to revered director of avant-garde theater, from asylum patient to father to God, conjuring along the way essential questions about the power of art and storytelling, the vanity of glory, and the meaning of freedom.

A mythic tale of art and displacement nimbly translated from Portuguese by Edgar Garbelotto, Harmada serves as yet another reminder of João Gilberto Noll’s sublime literary power: generous in its mystery; earthbound in its essential urges; and entirely unpredictable.


“The provocative and outlandish story of a washed-up actor drifting through the fantastical city of Harmada.… The book flows with the logic of dreams, the scenes altering as suddenly and inscrutably as the narrator’s explosive urges.” Publishers Weekly

“Noll is a hero of Brazilian literature who deserves to be widely known in the English-speaking world and this fascinating shape-shifting novel is a wonderful introduction to his work.” —Jenny Offill, author of Weather

“Noll is a master of prose, one of Brazil’s true literary icons.” —Literary Hub

“João Gilberto Noll could make any life into a compelling novel.” —Music & Literature

“Noll’s book are wild, violent, and fast-moving.” —Los Angeles Review of Books

“One of the most celebrated writers in contemporary Brazilian literature.” —Guernica

“This is unsettling fiction in the best way.” —The Culture Trip


João Gilberto Noll (1946–2017) is the author of nearly twenty books. His work appeared in Brazil’s leading periodicals, and he was a guest of the Rockefeller Foundation, King’s College London, and the University of California at Berkeley, as well as a Guggenheim Fellow. A five-time recipient of the Prêmio Jabuti, and the recipient of more than ten awards in all, he died in Porto Alegre, Brazil, at the age of 70.  
Edgar Garbelotto is a writer and translator born in Brazil and based in the U.S. for the past 20 years. His translation of João Gilberto Noll’s novel Lord was published by Two Lines Press in 2019. His work has appeared in the Kenyon Review Online, Asymptote, Ninth Letter, Little Patuxent Review, and elsewhere. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Illinois. Terra Incognita, written in both Portuguese and English, is his debut novel.

“One of these mornings, very soon, you’ll be in paradise with me,” I said.

I could have said: The angry dog bites the hem of the blue pants.

Or else: The lake here doesn’t turn into a skating rink because the air is not as cold as it is over there.

But I said: One of those mornings, very soon, you’ll be in paradise with me.

Cris was back to her senses. She pressed her closed lips against mine. A move so fast and instantaneous that it gave me no time to react.

I then realized we were both sitting in the chairs of the stadium near the shelter, watching the old Eldorado play. Apparently, it was an important match for the team. The stadium was crowded.

But I wanted to know something else: what were Cris and I doing seated in those numbered stadium chairs? We, who depended on other people’s money for our most basic needs? We sat there as if we were father and daughter—or an almost-old-man and a nymphet, it doesn’t matter—the two of us, serene, showing a mild curiosity toward what happened around us…

Cris looked at me, her ponytail reaching the back dip of her violet dress. She handed me a package wrapped in a white scarf.

“Look later,” she said. “Just keep it in your pocket for now.”

But I could not resist. When she was not looking, I opened the edges of the scarf. There was a wallet containing hundred dollar bills.

“Yeah, man,” I said to myself when people started cheering. Just another of Cris’s brilliant heists… And I remembered how we got there, to those comfortable numbered chairs, to that important match for Eldorado.

The next day we started planning our escape. People would never accept that I ran away from the shelter with a minor. We needed to execute our plan well without leaving any trail behind us.

We started spending less time together so no one would suspect our plot.

It was a pretty easy escape in broad daylight.
We arrived by bus in Harmada. At nightfall.
I knocked on the door of an old friend of mine, Bruce, an actor

like me, from the same generation. He hadn’t heard from me in years. We gave each other a long hug.

I told him my story. I said that, as incredible as it sounded, I wanted to go back to the theater. And now, directing Cris, a girl who was be- coming an actress more and more each day.

“I’m confident in my stage capabilities.”

I spoke, feeling like the most ridiculous of mortals. Maybe fatally unforgivable for the picture I was trying to paint for Bruce. I tried to fix it by changing the course of the conversation.

“Here’s big Bruce,” I said, with my hand on his shoulder, in a jolly tone I hadn’t used since I left my acting career behind.

Bruce was still a well-known actor in Harmada. I had followed his career in the newspapers that eventually fell into my lap at the shelter. He offered us a room in his apartment. Two large beds. A view that

overlooked half of Harmada, including a beautiful stretch of beach. Cris and I started sleeping in that room. Cris had the bed by the window. She’d often get on the mattress and lean over the windowsill. But, when we were not sleeping, we usually moved around the large apartment as if we were at home, and the feeling felt real, such was

Bruce’s warm welcome.