cover image Listen, Beautiful Márcia

Listen, Beautiful Márcia

Marcello Quintanilha, trans. from the Portuguese by Andrea Rosenberg. Fantagraphics, $29.99 (128p) ISBN 978-1-68396-777-4

Cinematic and saturated with color, Quintanilha’s English-language debut, a character study of a mother trying to keep her family safe in a Brazilian favela, vibrates with emotion. Nursing assistant Márcia’s wild daughter Jaqueline calls her “bro” and “girl” and accuses Márcia’s partner Aluísio of giving her gonorrhea (though it seems Jaqueline’s married gangster boyfriend, Tigela, might be a more likely candidate). Márcia stands up to Tigela and his paramilitary associates, lovingly cares for an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s, and—after Jaqueline is arrested for selling stolen goods—collaborates with law enforcement to bring Tigela and company to justice. Yet Márcia’s street-smart exterior belies a tender soul. She allows herself a few wistful moments listening to opera; late at night, she asks Aluísio if she’s beautiful. She laments “I’ve ruined everything I’ve touched” and tries to push Aluísio away after the gang beats him up. Her pain is visible in Quintanilha’s close-ups, lines rippling across her lavender-hued face. The messy pop art renders characters with skin colored like Easter eggs, against a bright backdrop of bustling favela life. The scenes throb with violence and heartache, but those closest to Márcia ultimately see her kindness, which also permeates every page. It’s a gorgeous tumult. (May)