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The Sun on My Head


Geovani Martins; Translated from the Portuguese by Julia Sanches

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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ISBN10: 0374223777
ISBN13: 9780374223779


128 Pages



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In The Sun on My Head, Geovani Martins recounts the experiences of boys growing up in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro in the early years of the twenty-first century. Drawing on his childhood and adolescence, Martins uses the rhythms and slang of his neighborhood dialect to capture the texture of life in the slums, where every day is shadowed by a ubiquitous drug culture, the constant threat of the police, and the confines of poverty, violence, and racial oppression. And yet these are also stories of friendship, romance, and momentary relief, as in “Rolézim,” where a group of teenagers head to the beach. Other stories, all uncompromising in their realism and yet diverse in narrative form, explore the changes that occur when militarized police occupy the favelas in the lead-up to the World Cup, the cycles of violence in the narcotics trade, and the feelings of invisibility that define the realities of so many in Rio’s underclass.

The Sun on My Head is a work of great talent and sensitivity, a daring evocation of life in the favelas by a rising star rooted in the community he portrays.


Praise for The Sun on My Head

"With slang-laden, boldly voiced prose that grounds readers in a unique place, Martins transports readers to the streets and beaches of Rio. In much the way that Edward P. Jones’ writing breathes life into the Washington D.C. that lies beyond Pennsylvania Avenue, Martins’ stories animate and humanize the people of a city whose humanity is often obscured by its own reputation."—Jason Hess, Booklist

"Young men contend with the violence and corruption of Rio de Janerio in this tantalizing debut . . . This is a promising work from an intriguing new voice."—Publishers Weekly

"A clutch of stories exploring the perilous and complex inner lives of residents of Rio's favelas. This taut debut collection is mostly populated by young men who've been quickly hardened by the druggy, violent milieu of Brazil's slums, where 'sorry's a feeling you get and lose quick,' as one narrator puts it . . . Martins' sketches are remarkably powerful . . . A tough-and-tender study of street life."—Kirkus Reviews


Read an Excerpt



Woke up blowtorches blazing. For real, not even nine a.m. and my crib was like melting. Couldn’t even see the rising damp in the living room, everything dry. Only the stains left: the saint,...

About the author

Geovani Martins; Translated from the Portuguese by Julia Sanches

Geovani Martins was born in 1991 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He grew up with his mother in the Rio neighbourhood of Vidigal. He supported his writing by working as a sandwich-board man and selling drinks on the beach, and was discovered during creative writing workshops at Flup, the literary festival of the Rio favelas. The Sun on My Head is his first book.

Julia Sanches translates from Portuguese, Spanish, French, and Catalan. She has translated works by Susana Moreira Marques, Noemi Jaffe, Daniel Galera, Claudia Hernández, and Liliana Colanzi, among others. Her work has also appeared in Two Lines, Granta, Tin House, Words Without Borders, and Electric Literature. She is a founding member of the Cedilla & Co. translators’ collective, and currently lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

Geovani Martins