Johnny Lorenz

Translator of Brazilian literature

Johnny Lorenz

Johnny Lorenz

Johnny Lorenz, son of Brazilian immigrants to the United States, was born in 1972. He received his doctorate in English from the University of Texas at Austin in 2000, and he is an associate professor at Montclair State University. His poems have appeared in The Massachusetts Review, Quiddity, Rattapallax and the anthology Luso-American Literature, and he has published articles on Brazilian literature in journals such as Luso-Brazilian Review and Modern Fiction Studies. He has translated writers such as Clarice Lispector, Marcelino Freire, Julián Fuks, Simões Lopes Neto and Cristovão Tezza. In 2013, he was a finalist for Best Translated Book for his translation of A Breath of Life by Clarice Lispector (New Directions). His book of poems, Education by Windows, was published in 2018 by Poets & Traitors Press, and it includes his translations of the poet Mario Quintana; these translations were supported by a Fulbright grant. He is also the translator of Lispector’s The Besieged City (New Directions).

cover image of the book The Besieged City

The Besieged City

Seven decades after its original publication, Clarice Lispector’s third novel—the story of a girl and the city her gaze reveals—is in English at last.

Lucrécia Neves is ready to marry.

Her suitors—soldierly Felipe, pensive Perseu, dependable Mateus—are attracted to her tawdry not-quite-beauty, which is of a piece with São Geraldo, the rough-and-ready township she inhabits.

Civilization is on its way to this place, where wild horses still roam. As Lucrécia is tamed by marriage, São Geraldo gradually expels its horses; and as the town strives for the highest attainment it can conceive—a viaduct—it takes on the progressively more metropolitan manners that Lucrécia, with her vulgar ambitions, desires too. Yet it is precisely through this woman’s superficiality—her identification with the porcelain knickknacks in her mother’s parlor—that Clarice Lispector creates a profound and enigmatic meditation on “the mystery of the thing.”

Written in Europe shortly after Clarice Lispector’s own marriage, The Besieged City is a proving ground for the intricate language and the radical ideas that characterize one of her century’s greatest writers—and an ironic ode to the magnetism of the material.

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cover image of the book A Breath of Life

A Breath of Life

A mystical dialogue between a male author (a thinly disguised Clarice Lispector) and his/her creation, a woman named Angela, this posthumous work has never before been translated. Lispector did not even live to see it published. At her death, a mountain of fragments remained to be “structured” by a friend, Olga Borelli. These fragments form a dialogue between a god-like author who infuses the breath of life into his creation: the speaking, breathing, dying creation herself, Angela Pralini. The work’s almost occult appeal arises from the perception that if Angela dies, Clarice will have to die as well.

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