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In Translation: Brazil’s Macunaíma with Katrina Dodson, John Keene, Madhu H. Kaza, and Musician Iara Rennó

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Wednesday, 6:30 pm EDT April 26, 2023

The Center for Fiction
& Livestreamed

In-person tickets to this event are sold out.

Join us to celebrate Katrina Dodson’s long-awaited translation of the Brazilian modernist epic novel Macunaíma: The Hero with No Character by Mário de Andrade.

This landmark 1928 novel follows the adventures of the shapeshifting Macunaíma and his brothers as they leave their Amazon home for a whirlwind tour of Brazil, cramming four centuries and a continental expanse into a single mythic plane. Having lost a magic amulet, the hero and his brothers journey to Sao Paulo to retrieve the talisman that has fallen into the hands of an Italo-Peruvian captain of industry (who is also a cannibal giant). Written over six delirious days—the fruit of years of study—Macunaíma magically synthesizes dialect, folklore, anthropology, mythology, flora, fauna, and pop culture to examine Brazilian identity. This brilliant translation by Katrina Dodson has been many years in the making and includes an extensive section of notes, providing essential context for this magnificent work. Dodson will be joined in conversation by John Keene, moderated by Madhu H. Kaza.

Brazilian musician Iara Rennó will perform songs from her album based on Macunaíma and there will be a reception sponsored by the Consulate General Brazil of New York after the event.

This event is co-presented by the Consulate General of Brazil in New York and Brazil LAB at Princeton University.

andrade_macunaima_cover_rev_rgb - Vrinda Madan


  • Katrina Dodson

    Katrina Dodson

    Katrina Dodson

    Katrina Dodson is the translator of The Complete Stories by Clarice Lispector (New Directions, 2015), winner of the PEN Translation Prize and other awards. Her translation of Mário de Andrade’s 1928 Brazilian modernist classic, Macunaíma: The Hero With No Character will be published by New Directions in 2023. Her writing has appeared in the Paris Review, the Believer, McSweeney’s, Triple Canopy, and elsewhere. Dodson holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley and is an affiliated scholar of the Brazil LAB at Princeton University. A San Francisco native, she now lives in Brooklyn and teaches translation at Columbia University.

    Photo Credit: Cressandra Thibodeaux

  • John Keene - Eliana Cohen-Orth

    John Keene

    John Keene

    John Keene is the author, co-author, and translator of a handful of books, including Annotations (1995) and Counternarratives (2015), both published by New Directions. Counternarratives received an American Book Award, a Lannan Literary Award, a Republic of Consciousness Prize (UK), and a Windham-Campbell Prize for Fiction. His most recent publication, Punks: New & Selected Poems (The Song Cave, 2021), received the 2022 National Book Award for Poetry, the Thom Gunn Award from the Publishing Triangle and a 2022 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. A 2018 MacArthur Fellow, he is Distinguished Professor and serves as department chair at Rutgers University-Newark.

  • Madhu Kaza - Trip Avis

    Madhu H. Kaza

    Madhu H. Kaza

    Born in Andhra Pradesh, India, Madhu H. Kaza is a writer, translator, artist, and educator based in New York City. She is a translator of contemporary Telugu women writers including Volga and Vimala. She guest edited a folio of writing from less translated languages as a special feature for the Summer/Fall 2022 issue of Gulf Coast, and she served as a 2021 juror for the National Book Awards in Translated Literature. She is the editor of Kitchen Table Translation, a volume that explores connections between translation and migration, and her work has appeared in the Yale Review, Gulf Coast, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Guernica, Two Lines, Waxwing, Chimurenga, and more. She works as Assistant Dean of the Bard Microcolleges at the Bard Prison Initiative and also teaches in the MFA Writing program at Columbia University.

  • Iara_Renno_1

    Iara Rennó

    Iara Rennó

    Nominated for a Latin Grammy in 2022 for her album Oríkì, Brazilian musician and composer Iara Rennó creates and performs multilingual projects that combine poetry, music, cinema, literature, theater, and performance. Her work is inspired by female power and expression, while also honoring the cultures of originary peoples to produce art that is decolonial and Afrodiasporic. Rennó has released eight albums, including Macunaíma Ópera Tupi (2008), which sets to music passages from Mário de Andrade’s 1928 Brazilian modernist classic, Macunaíma: The Hero with No Character. This musical tour-de-force brings together over 50 musicians across generations of Brazilian music, including Tom Zé, Moreno Veloso, and Kassin. Iara has since staged various incarnations of a Macunaíma show that has toured internationally. Music from the album also appears in the experimental film that she wrote, produced, and performed in, Transflorestar, which screened at the 2021 International Literary Festival of Paraty in Brazil (FLIP).

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