In Alexandre Vidal Porto’s debut novel, Matias na Cidade, published in Brazil in 2005, the protagonist is at a crossroads: he can choose to stay with his wife, kids, and maid—or he can leave everything behind. He seems to have that choice, but really he’s run out of options. The desire to find oneself is central to Vidal Porto’s characters. In his second novel, Sergio Y., published in English this month by Europa Editions, the titular character chooses to leave São Paulo for New York and change his name to Sandra. But, once again, there’s very little choice in the matter. It’s more like fate.
Vidal Porto leads us into the private lives of frustrated urban explorers who need a change of scenery, flâneurs who feel confined in familiar streets and seek a new beginning. His writing moves from dark to light, as his characters walk to higher ground for safety. From up there, they are able to see their own paths and decide where to go next. When faced with crisis, they choose life.
I met with Vidal Porto at Housing Works Bookstore in SoHo, where we talked about the future of Brazilian fiction, gender identity, and traveling to find oneself.
Read the full interview in BOMB Magazine.