Brazilian and Portuguese Literature in Brussels

From Monday, March 19th until Saturday 24th, the flavor of Brazilian literature arrived with all its warmth to Belgium. On its fifth edition, The Brazilian Spring Literary Festival (Printemps Littéraire Brésilien) aims at promoting discussions around literature in the Portuguese language by bringing writers and poets to institutions of higher education.

At the moment of its conception, my goal was to increase the students’ exposure to modern Brazilian writers, to foster the exchange between students and literature,” said Leonardo Tonus, the festival’s founder and Professor of Brazilian Literature at Sorbonne University in Paris, where the first edition of the festival took place.

Leonardo Tonus, the festival’s founder and Professor of Brazilian Literature at Sorbonne University in Paris.

In 2015, Brazil was the guest of honor at the Paris Book Fair (Salon du Livre) and he saw an opportunity he couldn’t miss. He managed to convince several authors attending the fair to also come to the university. The students’ reaction was well worth the effort. At that moment, he saw the potential and reach of such a festival.

After the success of the first couple of years, I decided to turn the Printemps Brésilien into a nomad festival where the places we visit change every year,” said Prof. Tonus.

In 2016 the festival traveled to the Netherlands, Germany and Italy; and in 2017 to Belgium, Portugal, Spain and France. At first the focus was on Brazilian writers but this year, with the support from the Camoes Institute, several Portuguese authors will also participate in the festival, which this year will tour through different cities in France, Belgium, Luxembourg. Then it will make its first appearance in the US in April, and the cities are: Chicago, IL, Columbus, OH, Albuquerque, NM, Tempe, AZ, and Providence, RI. Afterwards, the festival will have a second European tour with a different group of writers in May going to Berlin, Heidelberg and Athens.

This is a slightly different literary festival from the average one,” said Prof. Tonus. “We have partnerships with over 15 universities in Europe and the US. And this is because for me, the most important aspect of it is that writers meet students. That’s when the festival really shines.

Between the 19th and 24th of March, a dozen Brazilian and Portuguese authors, poets, translators and editors, visited the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Ghent University, Antwerp University, the Embassy of Brazil, the Embassy of Portugal, the Librebook, Licorne and Filigranes book stores, the Cercle de Voyageurs, as well as the Saint-Jean Baptiste de La Salle Institute. With the support of the Camões Institute, Some of the authors coming to Belgium this year are: Gonçalo Naves, David Machado, Nuno Gomes Garcia, Dulce Maria Cardoso and João Pedro Pego.

PT Librebook
Antonio Parodi, owner of Librebook, welcoming the Sarau and Tertúlia evening

When asked about the years to come, Prof. Tonus remains ambitious and full of dreams about the future. “My goal is to continue expanding to other geographies. Maybe the Poland and the Czech Republic, the UK as well. This is not only an event, it’s a movement. We believe it’s critical to get civil society engaged as much as possible to be able to change the world. That’s the only way.