O Globo, the most prominent daily newspaper in Brazil, reported Sunday that Brazilian government officials intend to write a letter to the U.S. Embassy and demand an official apology from officials there for the negative portrayal of Brazil and its inhabitants contained in Seven Days in Rio, a novel by Francis Levy. Seven Days in Rio was published in August by Two Dollar Radio. The small press is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, and is distributed by Consortium.
Seven Days in Rio is a satirical novel about a middle-aged American accountant on the prowl in Brazil’s second largest city, looking for a long-term relationship with a prostitute. The author, whose debut novel, Erotomania,, was published by Two Dollar Radio in 2008, claims he has never visited Brazil and did no prior research on that country either. The book has received positive reviews in PW, the New York Times, Vanity Fair, and elsewhere; more reviews are anticipated. Before this controversy erupted, Seven Days in Rio was available in print formats only in the U.S. and Canada. Publisher Eric Obenauf says that a digital version of the novel, which is available only in English, will be made available to Brazilian consumers through Amazon.com, Apple, and other online outlets selling e-books.
“We want people there to read the book and decide for themselves,” Obenauf explained.
O Globo disclosed that Aparecida Gonçalves, the secretary for combating violence against women, a government body that reports to the presidency, is leading the charge for the official apology, and quotes her insisting that all Brazilians must be “treated well, even in fiction.” Obenauf told PW that neither the press nor the author have been contacted by Brazilian officials, though both were contacted last week by a reporter for O Globo, Cristina Tarddguila.
"[Tarddguila] drummed it all up 100% herself,” Obenauf explained, disclosing that Tarddguila had read a review of Seven Days in Rio on author Chuck Palaniuk’s website, the Cult, and had subsequently requested a PDF of the novel. He assumes Tarddguila passed it on to Gonçalves. “I don’t know how else they [the Brazilian government] would have heard about it,” he said, “I feel like I’m living in an Onion headline.”
Even though Two Dollar Radio has received negative e-mails from irate Brazilians and others on the press’s blog, they hope that the controversy will drive up sales. Seven Days in Rio was published with a 3,000 copy initial print run and to date has sold 1,000 copies.