A Cup of Rage

Raduan Nassar, trans. from the Portuguese by Stefan Tobler. New Directions, $10.95 trade paper (64p) ISBN 978-0-8112-2658-5
This erotically charged story of one day in the life of a man and his younger female lover, which takes place at the man’s house in the Brazilian countryside, is a slim but explosive examination of power and violence in human relationships. The novella, first published in Brazil in the 1970s, has been exquisitely translated by Tobler. The densely complex prose belies the rather simple story of an intimate sexual encounter between a man and woman followed by a destructive argument the following morning, spurred on by the man’s fury at the discovery of a gap in his hedge that had been created overnight by leaf-cutter ants. Both lovers hurl insults at the other, and the man becomes increasingly enraged as his lover taunts him, knowing exactly how to bring out his dangerous passion. The threat of violence and its inevitability is embedded in almost every moment between the characters as their power struggle plays out, and much of the novella’s force comes from the implied relationship between violence and desire, pain and pleasure. The impeccably intricate structure—each chapter is told in a single sprawling sentence—and the intense style lend a great deal of intellectual weight to this powerful, challenging work. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/03/2016
Release date: 01/01/2017
Paperback - 64 pages - 978-0-14-139680-4
Open Ebook - 80 pages - 978-0-8112-2659-2
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