FlipSide literary festival: Brazil's turning over a new leaf... in Suffolk

South America’s premier literary festival Flip is heading our way. Holly Williams reports

Brazil’s biggest literary jamboree, Flip – Festa Literária Internacional de Paraty, or Paraty International Literary Festival – has drawn thousands of visitors to the small, absurdly picturesque historic seaside town of Paraty every summer for the last 10 years. Featured authors get a publishing boost from the huge amount of media coverage (Flip can be hold-the-front-page news in Brazil), and the festival commands respect on the international stage; this July visiting authors included Lydia Davis, John Banville, John Jeremiah Sullivan, Geoff Dyer, and Tobias Wolff.

Flip was the first literary festival in South America, and is now a cornerstone of the cultural year in Brazil, but it was established by a British woman: Liz Calder, a powerhouse publisher who co-founded Bloomsbury and worked with Salman Rushdie, Julian Barnes, and Anita Brookner. As president of Flip, she’s now bringing things full circle, with a spin-off festival – FlipSide – at Snape Maltings in Suffolk next month.

As a young woman, Calder lived and worked as a model in Brazil; she’s held a deep affection for the country ever since. In the Nineties she began going back, looking for writers to publish in the UK, and when visiting Paraty, on the coast between São Paulo and Rio, she hit on the idea of starting a festival there: “Having seen other festivals, like Hay-on-Wye, it seemed to me that a location that itself attracts people is the best kind, because when you’ve enjoyed the feast of literary events, you can go out and have a nice time.”

After attending this year’s Flip, I can vouch for the success of this approach; the charming old-fashioned squares where people sit at night, discussing events over a caipirinha, or the beautiful beaches you stretch out on, a freshly author-signed book in hand, are as much a part of the appeal as the programmed talks.

Snape Maltings, an arts hub near Aldeburgh, may not be quite as tropically enticing as Paraty, but it shares a quaintly coastal atmosphere. The well-connected Calder, now living in Suffolk, has, as with the first Flip (which featured Barnes, Don DeLillo, Eric Hobsbawm, and Hanif Kureishi), corralled a corking line-up for the inaugural FlipSide. There’s an emphasis on cultural exchange, bringing Brazilian writers not only into focus but also into dialogue with Britain. The programme features “encounters” between Milton Hatoum and Ian McEwan, Bernardo Carvalho and Will Self, Adriana Lisboa and James Scudamore, as well as a “translation duel” between Margaret Jull Costa and Stefan Tobler.

“We’re partnering, in some of the events, a British writer with a Brazilian writer. It’s a mentoring thing, an introducing thing,” explains Calder. The Brazilian author Adriana Lisboa speaks warmly of FlipSide’s cultural exchanges: “For me, they’re probably its best part. It’s always a breath of fresh air to get out of our little ghettoes to see what’s going on: what people  think  in other parts of the world, what authors’  expectations, fears and hopes are.”

I ask Calder if she had always planned to bring Flip to the UK. “Not at all. It really has only been quite recently – partly to do with the Olympic legacy, the whole of Brazil coming into its own on the international stage. This is another way of continuing to disseminate more information about Brazilian literature. The Brazilians have an immense national pride in their own literature, but they don’t actually seem to care that nobody else knows about it.”

Certainly 2013 seems a good year for raising the profile of Brazilian authors; not only is Brazil experiencing an economic boom – highlighted by international events such as the 2016 Olympics and the 2014 World Cup – but recent protests there also flagged up to the rest of the world what a fast-changing country it is. Brazil’s literary scene also appears to be engaged with such issues too; at this year’s Flip, not only were several events added for swift reactions to the protests, but protesters were even demonstrating outside.

Asked if such international attention is having a trickle-down effect on interest in the Brazil’s cultural output, the novelist and literature professor Milton Hatoum commented: “Most likely. But the clichés about Brazil are still very strong: football, carnival, samba and violence. To reach the true culture and complexity of such an enormous country you have to cut through the stereotypes. Brazilian music, literature and cinema ought to be better known, but I’m not sure that the foreigners who come to Brazil for the World Cup and the Olympic Games will be interested in our culture. A lot of people – and I’m one of them – are critical of our hosting these mega-events.” However, he added that he hoped FlipSide might help attract British attention to Brazilian culture “in a way that goes beyond the stereotypes”.

Such thoughts were echoed by Lisboa. “My main concern is that the focus seems to be mainly on Brazil’s ‘exotic’ side. It has been always about soccer, carnival, samba and, more recently, drug wars and urban violence. Brazil is much more than that. What is also cruel is to expect that Brazilian authors write always about ‘Brazilian subjects’. An American or French writer won’t necessarily write about their own countries. They will write about whatever they want. ”

There will be plenty of all that at FlipSide – concerts celebrate the bossa nova music of Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, there are films about Tropicalia legends Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso; you can workshop Brazil’s famous dance martial art capoeira, or listen to a talk on Britain and Brazil’s mutual obsession with “football and futebol”. There are even street food stalls selling bean stew, feijoada, and the classic caipirinha cocktail. But, as well as embracing these well-loved cultural clichés (there is a reason such things are so enduringly popular), the festival is clearly set to open a fresh new Anglo-Brazilian dialogue.

FlipSide will hopefully introduce British readers to new voices, new writing and new perspectives from Brazil.

‘Crow Blue’ by Adriana Lisboa is published by Bloomsbury next month; Milton Hatoum has written for ‘Other Carnivals: New Stories from  Brazil’, published by Full Circle and launched at FlipSide. FlipSide is at Snape Maltings, Suffolk,

4 to 6 Oct; flipsidefestival.co.uk

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
TVDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

art
Arts and Entertainment
Laugh a minute: Steph Parker with Nigel Farage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Comic Ivor Dembina has staged his ‘Traditional Jewish Xmas Eve Show’ for the past 20 years; the JNF UK charity is linked to the Jewish National Fund, set up to fund Jewish people buying land in Palestinian territories
comedy

Arts and Entertainment
Transformers: Age of Extinction was the most searched for movie in the UK in 2014

film
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Ronson has had two UK number two singles but never a number one...yet

music
Arts and Entertainment
Clara Amfo will take over from Jameela Jamil on 25 January

radio
Arts and Entertainment
This is New England: Ken Cheeseman, Ann Dowd, Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins in Olive Kitteridge

The most magnificently miserable show on television in a long timeTV
Arts and Entertainment
Andrea Faustini looks triumphant after hearing he has not made it through to Sunday's live final

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
    Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

    Scarred by the bell

    The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
    Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

    Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

    Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
    The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

    The Locked Room Mysteries

    As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
    Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

    How I made myself Keane

    Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
    Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

    Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

    Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
    A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

    Wear in review

    A look back at fashion in 2014
    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

    Might just one of them happen?
    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?