What has the award meant to you?
It has meant a lot and I shall always be thankful to Sweden.
When I was eight years old, I read a book by the Brazilian writer Monteiro Lobato that changed my life. The book made me fall in love with literature (until then, I thought books were boring companions). I read everything Lobato wrote for children and I could no longer do without books. As an adolescent, I began to nourish a dream, which gradually became a genuine urge – to enlarge my relationship with books.
First, I learnt other languages, which gave me access to a greater variety of books. Then I began writing books myself – and was very pleased, I must admit, to find they helped to pay my bills. Seeking to get even closer to books, I became my own publisher and, in so doing, was able to complete the process from having an idea for a book through to the finished project arriving into the hands of the reader. When I saw that my tiny publishing house was alive and well, I decided to complete my love affair with books by creating a foundation related to books. But how could such a venture be funded?
As if in answer to what appeared to be an insurmountable problem came an early morning telephone call from Sweden advising me I had won the ALMA prize for 2004. The foundation was immediately set up and, over the past six years, it has been able to develop and support community projects that are beneficial to adults, adolescents and children, including a major project that encourages reading.
My very grateful thanks to Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award!
What are you working with at present?
A good part of my time is dedicated to the Publishing House and Cultural Foundation Casa Lygia Bojunga. I am also working on a new book that mixes fiction with autobiography, which I hope to publish soon.
Importance of contacts with readers/the public
There is increasing pressure on writers to be in frequent contact with the public. Visibility is an issue that most writers and artists feel obliged to comply with. Although I believe that ‘ivory towers’ are an unhealthy habitat, I still believe that a fairly good amount of solitude is very beneficial to creators.