Refugees Worldwide Pre-purchase Campaign

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We will soon be publishing Refugees Worldwide, a wonderful collection of writing on displaced people around the world. Leading writers – including Mohammed Hanif (A Case of Exploding Mangoes), Ece Temelkuran (The Women Who Blow on Knots), Najat El Hachmi (The Last Patriach) and Abubakar Adam Ibrahim (Season of Crimson Blossoms) – provide insightful works of narrative non-fiction and reset the balance on a global refugee crisis that is too often viewed through Eurocentric eyes. Proceeds from the book will be donated to Refugees International.

Ragpicker Press is small and independent and we have to be innovative to fund our projects. In order to finance the first print run of Refugees Worldwide we need to pre-sell 100 copies. It's a straightforward campaign, £10 to pre-purchase one copy of the book, but as a special offer you can have The Football Crónicas half-price (so £15 for Refugees Worldwide and The Football Crónicas) and Crude Words at a discount (so £20 for Refugees Worldwide and Crude Words, and £25 for all three.)

To pre-purchase Refugees Worldwide simply click on the Paypal button below. If you'd prefer to do a bank transfer or if you want to take advantage of one of the special offers, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  (or my personal email if you know me and know that) for further instructions. We aim to have the books printed in early September and posted out by the end of the month.

We'll run the campaign until we reach our goal and we'll update the number of copies sold on a daily basis. Current total: 1/100

 

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Coming Soon: Refugees Worldwide

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A Syrian man watches his friends depart, a Turkish woman decides she herself must leave; a Congolese asylum seeker confronts Japanese bureaucracy, an Afghan gets a hero's welcome in Lithuania. Somalis flee to Kenya, Pakistanis to Indonesia, Salvadorans to Belize, Haitians to Brazil. The refugee crisis in Nigeria, Sudan, Ukraine, Greece; a world in flux.

Mohammed Hanif / Ece Temelkuran / Khaled Khalifa / Najat El Hachmi / Masatsugu Ono / Nora Bossong / Abdi Latif Dahir / Andréa del Fuego / Artem Chapeye / Nils Mohl / Stella Gaitano / Juan José Martínez D'Aubuisson / Amanda Michalopoulou / Abubakar Adam Ibrahim

Fourteen leading writers from around the world offer incisive works of literary reportage focused on migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. Together their personal accounts provide a powerful picture of global displacement; the story of our time.

Proceeds from this book will be donated to Refugees International, an independent organisation that advocates for displaced people everywhere.

The cover design is still under development, but will based around Rubab Paracha's wonderful refugee-inspired artwork.

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A Celebration of Crude Words

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CLAW
As part of the CLAW (Contemporary Latin American Writing) Festival this week, we'll be having a little celebration of Crude Words. Join the editors and translators to discuss contemporary Venezuelan writing.

When: Saturday 8th July @ 3:30pm 

Where: The Cervantes Theatre, Old Union Street Arches, 229 Union Street, Southwark, London

At 5.30, there'll be a performance of co-editor Montague Kobbé's play Tales of Bed Sheets and Departure Lounges - find out more at www.clawfestival.com

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Media Frenzy

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A number of Ragpicker collaborators have been hitting the headlines recently; Football Crónicas translator Jon Blitzer reports on the plight of Salvadoran deportees for the New Yorker:

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/01/23/the-deportees-taking-our-calls

And Football Crónicas writer Juan Pablo Meneses discussed the art of crónica writing with the LA Review of Books:

https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/cant-escape-road-interview-juan-pablo-meneses/

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When the Devil Calls Him on Stage

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A belated Christmas present from Ragpicker, a crónica from Héctor Torres. Read more from Torres and 29 other Venezuelan writers in Crude Words, available now.

When the Devil Calls Him on Stage

by Héctor Torres

Translated by Tim Girven

 

(For Gustavo, who presented me with this anecdote)

Tyrants have always been ambitious and narcissistic. Those of the past built huge workers’ housing complexes fifty-blocks strong, each with over a hundred apartments, just to cite one well-known case. During the first years, or so they say, the neighbours could go down to the Workers’ Bank office and request plumbing services, for instance, which were free.

Don’t believe that paternalism was invented by Acción Democrática¹.

Amelia not only came late to these stories, she has also seen them grow ever more distant with each day she has lived in Block 40 of the labyrinth known as the 23de Enero.  Having either seen them or heard them, everyone knows these tales by heart. She was there when they began to stop the lifts at 10pm as a measure against the wave of rapes unleashed upon the residents. She has witnessed the various wars waged for control of the block. She knows that this city of almost fifty tenements (not counting the small ones) and who-knows-how-many neighbourhoods is an independent republic into which the police don’t venture. She’s been woken in the small hours by the cries of big men sobbing and pleading for their lives. And she’s heard the detonations that made a mockery of these supplications. She’s seen how the different ‘collectives’ that support the government have become better armed, and she knows that the great final battle between them is already on the horizon.

She has seen the consequences of this bullet-ridden carnival. She has also seen a man called Alberto whistle his way into her life and then leave the same way some years later. They say he now lives with some other woman, nearby, and although she says it doesn’t bother her, when Albertico, who’s now twenty, walks down the corridor, whistling, she can’t help but feel herself tense up.

Amelia isn’t worried by the assailants of the block or by the spectre of Alberto; nor by the police. She couldn’t care less if the same old layabouts now call it a ‘socialist community’. Like thousands of her neighbours, she only knows that her day starts at five in the morning, that she earns her crust at a company on Boleíta, and that when the metro throws her out—literally—there in Agua Salud at six in the afternoon, she still needs to have the energy to take the bus that will bring her to the block. She knows too that Albertico is a calm youth, that he has a job and a girlfriend, and that with a tremendous effort she has moved things forward. ‘Where to?’ She doesn’t even ask she’s so damn tired when she puts her head on the pillow at night.

Bemba also grew up in the block. She knows him from when he was Joseíto, some ten years younger than her. She saw him attend school until somewhere around the end of primary and then she watched him throw it all away, step by step. He’d always been big for his age. And as tyrants are always ambitious and narcissistic, he’d carved out his legend at the cost of tens of bodies. It’s been said already: el 23 is an independent republic. And now it’s a socialist one. The police arrive (in the mornings, obviously) to pick up the bodies, ask questions so as to maintain appearances and then leave in a hurry—until the next corpse.

The devil, in all his wisdom, when he ushers men to the fortress of Power, always leaves the door that leads to their downfall open. It’s such a small building that it can only house one resident at a time. Accordingly, sooner or later, they all open the door, dead certain that what confronts them isn’t the abyss (if they could see the large queue of aspirants behind them they would be wise rather than powerful).

If unused, the survival instinct atrophies. But the powerful become so arrogant that they get to the outrageous point of disdaining it. And like all those who really wield power, Bemba had long put it to the back of his mind. He trusted blindly in his companions, Beretta and Luger. They never failed him.

The legend says that when he lit up those enormous roll-ups that he smoked, the precise composition of which remained forever unknown, no one should look him in the eye. Those who ignored this piece of advice paid for their insolence with a chalk outline of their body on the pavement. Which is to say, any prudent man who found himself accompanying Bemba’s rites, the pair of pistols in the waistband of his trousers, prudently turned off his testosterone.

It doesn’t cost much to lower one’s eyes a few metres in the presence of death.

The following morning, they would all console one another when they met at the bus stop. “‘Did you see it - that huge reefer?’ ‘The whites of his eyes were yellow’. “‘They say the dirty bastard gives it to his mother’.” “‘They’re two big pistols…’ ‘When the fuck is someone going to have the balls going to put a bullet right between the bastard’s eyes?’

And to this prayer his own mother added her voice, albeit in her own manner: ‘Lord, when are you going to take him from us?’ she prayed, piously.

Only the devil could be as perverse as to whisper in the ears of the powerful, repeating each time: ‘What good is power if you don’t exercise it?’ (Which is his way of saying: see that door? Open it.) Anyway, it wasn’t too long before the day came when ‘the girl’ walked past. She was a young thing of sixteen or so, and was as pretty, fresh and appetising as only a sixteen-year-old girl can be. As with all genuine matters of destiny, it couldn’t even be said that it was something personal. This graceful form in motion was the latch that Bemba opened up. Don’t worry; worse things happen every day in the alleyways and lifts of these blocks. He simply didn’t repress the impulse to fondle those delectable teenage buttocks.

The legend says that the girl arrived home crying, and that without adding or dropping so much as a comma, she told her boyfriend Albertico what had just happened. While a frozen current ran through his body, Albertico went home with a taciturn expression and meditated silently and at length before an imaginary fork in the road.

They say it was around twelve when they heard shots—one, two, three shots from a revolver, and then the broadside of an automatic weapon, accompanied by a shout so heart-rending that it frightened the neighbours more than the gunfire. The legend tells that Albertico walked calmly up to Bemba, ignoring his famously fierce look and took out a .38 that someone –upon hearing the nature of the enterprise he had taken on– had generously lent him. They say that only with the first shot, which entered through his shoulder, did Bemba realise what was happening, and that he died with a stupid look of perplexity, seeing the kid advancing towards him as he fired. That Albertico, still trembling, took the pair of pistols from him and felt something so portentous in his body that if he hadn’t shouted at the top of his lungs, expelling everything, he would have died of fear in that very moment.

The happiness of the block’s residents was short-lived. They say that the devil never rests. Now he whispers in the ear of El Albertico, who left that little girlfriend behind some time ago: ‘What good is power if you don’t exercise it?’

Some kid, one of those whose mother picks him up early, will in turn obediently take up his role when the devil calls him on stage.

¹Accíon Demócratica - Founded in 1941, 'AD' - also known as Partido Blanco or Partido del Pueblo - is broadly considered a social democratic party; between 1958 and 1998 it alternated in power with COPEI, the Social Christian party or Partido Verde.

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Bottletop Donation

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The Football Crónicas launched one year ago. Sales have been impressive and we're pleased to announce that we've covered our costs and been able to make a £1,000 donation to The Bottletop Foundation. Ragpicker Press director Jethro Soutar met Bottletop director Oliver Wayman earlier this month to present the foundation with a cheque. Oliver was thrilled with the contribution, stressing how far £1,000 stretches when used on the ground on projects.

The Bottletop Foundation is a UK-based organisation that does outstanding work empowering young people in Africa and Brazil, tackling sensitive issues including the prevention of HIV/Aids, unplanned teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, gender inequality, low self-esteem and vocational-skills deficits (http://bottletop.org/pages/foundation). Ragpicker Press is proud to support The Bottletop Foundation and hopes to be able to make a similar donation next year.

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FC at the LBF

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The Football Crónicas got an unexpected mention at the London Book Fair, featuring in the Market Focus guide to Guest Country, Mexico:

'Ragpicker Press's The Football Crónicas, edited by Jethro Soutar and Tim Girven, is a highly entertaining introduction to the form, and also features a number of translators at the top of their game'.

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The FC Stadium Tour

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WSC reviews FC

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The Football Crónicas was reviewed by Nick Dorrington in last month's edition of When Saturday Comes. Dorrington rounds-off his insightful write-up thus:

Laced with local patois and references to the art, food and history of the region, the book is, at times, a challenging, even daunting read... Yet it is still an enlightening and ultimately rewarding excursion into the football and culture of Latin America.

Read the full review here.

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FC goes North

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The Football Crónicas ended the year in fine style with two presentations, one in Sheffield and one in Edinburgh.

The Sheffield event, at the Off the Shelf Festival of Words, was a homecoming gig for translators Jethro Soutar and Ruth Clarke. They were joined on stage by local journalist Ian Soutar, who chaired the event, and an enthusiastic crowd who asked a range of searching questions.

Next stop on the Football Crónicas tour was Word Power Books, a wonderful independent bookshop in Edinburgh. Given that the event overlapped with Scotland versus England, there was a healthy crowd, and they were entertained by Glaswegian author John McGill, who presented the book, highlighting its universal qualities. Jethro Soutar was on hand to talk about how the book came about, while translator Rachael McGill talked about working on it. Word Power Books now stocks The Football Crónicas, so if you're in Auld Reekie, head there.

Ragpicker Press would like to thank their wonderful hosts and everyone who came along and made the events a success.

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Selfie

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The Football Crónicas watching the World Cup Final on Copacabana beach.

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The Football Crónicas makes World Cup debut

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The Football Crónicas was at the quarter-finals of the World Cup for Netherlands-Costa Rica this week (thanks to John O'Connor for the photo).

Meanwhile, When Saturday Comes published a piece on Costa Rica by Surya Lecona Moctezuma and translated by Ruth Clarke, the same team who brought you Football Crónica Chapter 6, 'Costa Nica: The Latin American Dream'.

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Queens Football

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Get in the mood for today's Colombia game by reading Queens Football, as published by our friends at Words Without Borders.

And for extra-time, read Rosalind Harvey's piece on translating the crónica.

And for penalties (alright, we're not in the knock-out stages yet, but anyway...), a Q&A with author Alberto Salcedo Ramos.

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The devil himself was Bile Cutão

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No better way to celebrate the Big Kick-Off than by reading an extract from The Big Family, as published by Bookanista.

The Big Family was written especially for The Football Crónicas by Vinicius Jatobá. It's a short-story celebration of football's arrival in Brazil via the British, and the Brazilians reinvention of the game. In the extract, a team of British sailors take on Rio dockers and port down-and-outs in the game of the century, 1938.

For the British players' names, Vinicius offered crowdfunders the chance to pledge for a place on the team, then asked translators to supply the names of the grandfathers to complete the line-up. Of course, the narrator then Brazilianifies their names, turning them inside out, much as the great Bile Cutão does to defenders.

 

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If they find out we’re here doing a story, we’re dead

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Juan Pablo Meneses goes undercover to travel with Chile's most notorious hooligans on a bus trip from Santago to Buenos Aires. It will be a bumpy ride.

Those of you who were at our launch party will have heard Jojo's brilliant reading of the first part of this crónica. In partnership with The White Review - London's premier literary magazine - we bring you the whole thing: A Grenade for River Plate by Juan Pablo Meneses, translated by Jethro Soutar.

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From Rio to River Plate

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The Free Word Centre in London played host to a joint book-launch event on Monday night, as The Football Crónicas and The Book of Rio (from Comma Press) shared the stage. Lucy Greaves, the centre’s translator in residence, chaired a discussion that featured Toni Marques, co-editor of The Book of Rio, and Jethro Soutar, co-editor of The Football Crónicas. Jethro had also translated one of the pieces in The Book of Rio, a collection of Rio-themed short stories, as had Lucy.

The trio were joined by... an empty chair. Diego Trelles Paz had finally overcome the visa troubles that had kept him away from Monday’s The Football Crónicas Cambridge event, but was nowhere to be seen. The Free Word Centre is home to English PEN and it is a PEN initiative to use empty chairs to symbolise persecuted writers around the world. In Diego’s case, it was nothing more sinister than the British weather and traffic conspiring against him, but his absence was an opportunity to reflect on imprisoned writers everywhere.

Lucy got the ball rolling by asking Jethro how The Football Crónicas came about. He talked about the initial idea, the crowdfunding campaign and setting up a publisher, as can be read on the Free Word blog here. http://www.freewordcentre.com/blog/2014/05/making-the-football-cronicas/

Toni then talked about the Rio book and how he set about choosing the authors, seeking variation in backgrounds and subject matter.

A sudden moment of drama then saw Diego come bounding down the stairs and onto stage, making his apologies before providing a bit of background to his story, ‘Football and Plague’ - a tale of a hijack-gone-wrong played out to the backdrop of radio commentary of the 2000 Peruvian league-title showdown between Universitario and Sporting Cristal - before joining Jethro (the story’s translator) and Tim Girven (co-editor of The Football Crónicas) to read from it.

Toni and Lucy then read (Toni in Portuguese; Lucy from her English translation) before a flurry of questions from the audience – including one from Jan Rocha, co-writer of Brazil Inside Out, from the Latin America Bureau – led to book signings and drinks in the next room.

It was an engaging evening and The Football Crónicas would like to thank the Free Word Centre for organising the event and Lucy and Katie Slade (Comma Press) for the invitation.

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Missing morning training is unthinkable

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On the weekend England played Peru at Wembley, Ragpicker Press is delighted to work in tandem with innovative indy publisher, the marvellous And Other Stories, to bring you some Peruvian literature, an extract from one of the Football Crónicas: ‘The Goal-Begetting Women of the Andes’, written by Marco Avilés, translated by Rachael McGill and illustrated by Luisa Apalhão:

The Goal-Begetting Women of the Andes

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Mi Housemans es tu Housemans

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A mixture of crowfunders, translators, book designers and the generally curious gathered in Housemans bookshop in London on Saturday night for the launch of The Football Crónicas. Guests could help themselves to a glass of Brazilian bubbly (we kid you not) before settling down to listen to co-editors Jethro Soutar and Tim Girven introduce the book. Tim talked about how the idea for the book came after he picked up a copy of La Eterna Parranda by Alberto Salcedos Ramos (author of the Football Crónica ‘Queens Football’) while on a trip to Bogota. A trip to Bolivia followed and a road blockade in El Alto (see Football Crónicas ‘The Goal in the Back of Beyond’ and ‘Football’s Strangest Kidnapping’) gave him extra time to read and explore La Paz bookshops, while an airline bankruptcy then led him to Uruguay via Peru and Paraguay, reading material picked up at every turn.

Clara Becker, fresh from her star turn at the Dangerous Times festival, was on hand to read from her Football Crónica ‘Congressman Romário: Big Fish in the Aquarium’ in the original Portuguese, with Robin Patterson then reading from his brilliant translation.

Tim mentioned what a privilege it was to be launching The Football Crónicas at Housemans (‘Radical Booksellers Since 1945’), a curiosity shop he’s been visiting for 30-odd years. We thank Housemans for hosting and would encourage everyone to buy the book through them.

The party then moved up the road to the Star of Kings, where the very talented Jojo Thomas read/performed ‘A Grenade For River Plate’, by Juan Pablo Meneses, and Simon Scardifield played Jackanory with ‘The Big Family’, by Vinicius Jatobá. The art commissioned as part of the crowdfunding campaign was on proud display and much admired, and it was a pleasure to see several of the artists themselves also in the house.

All in all, a terrific night. We thank everyone who came along and toasted The Football Crónicas on its way.

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Dangerous Times

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The Football Crónicas took part in the Dangerous Times festival on Saturday, at Rich Mix in London. Clara Becker, author of ‘Congressman Romário: Big Fish in the Aquarium’ - a crónica portrait of Romário, the 1994 World Cup winner, now a politician – was in town for a panel discussion entitled ‘Brazil 2014: The end of the beautiful game?’

Mark Perryman chaired a round-table talk that also featured Sue Branford (of the Latin American Bureau), David Goldblatt (author and broadcaster – Radio 4 recently aired his ‘The History of Brazil is Round’) and Justin McGuirk (author of Radical Cities, a look at town planning and social policy across Latin America). As the panel’s sole Brazilian, Clara was frequently called upon to provide the insider view in a lively debate that covered the role of football and how sport can be used to engage people politically; why this is especially true of Brazil; how former footballers such as Romário and Ronaldo fit into the scheme of things; how mega sporting events can be, but aren’t, used for social good; whether there will be protests at the World Cup.

Indeed at all events over the past few weeks, the protest question has cropped up time and time again. Nobody really knows the answer: there will undoubtedly be protests, but whether they are small or large, peaceful or violent, depends on so many factors it is impossible to call. Everyone on the panel hoped that there would be protests and that they would be seen, heard and respected, albeit without unduly interrupting a sporting event they hope is played and enjoyed in the right spirit, and won by Brazil (two panelists), England (two panelists) or Bosnia (one panelist).

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Wem-ber-ley! Wem-ber-ley!

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The Football Crónicas went to Wembley on Friday night for England versus Peru. The game wasn't exactly a cracker (the biggest cheers of the night came whenever a paper aeroplane landed on the pitch, inside the area, and finally, gloriously, struck a player) but it had its moments and there was a good atmosphere with a sizeable Peruvian contingent. 

The Football Crónicas were guests of Philosophy Football and thank them for a enjoyable evening.

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Grand Slam

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The Sun and Thirteen Cantons played host to a translation poetry slam between Football Crónicas translators Jethro Soutar and Rosalind Harvey last night. The event was organised by Ambit magazine and coincided with the launch of Death on Rua Augusta, a book by Mexican poet Tedi López Mills, translated by David Shook and published by Eyewear Publishing, as well as our own The Football Crónicas.

The slam revolved around Tedi's poem 'Una vida en el día'. Tedi was on hand to read the poem in Spanish before Jethro and Rosalind kicked-off, reading their respective translated versions. At the final whistle, David compared a lively discussion as the translators defended their choices: 'lame' versus 'three-legged', 'barrio' versus 'neighbourhood', 'his' versus 'a' etc... The contest went to extra-time and penalties, Rosalind running out with a 2-1 victory. 
 
Enhorabuena to Rosalind, and Gracias to everyone involved in organising such a fun night.
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The Football Crónicas enters the academic pantheon

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Christian Schwartz, the Brazilian translator of Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch, attended the Cambridge launch of The Football Crónicas on Monday night.  Christian was in town from the University of São Paulo, to give a lecture entitled ‘Football in Translation: National Languages and Styles of Play in Argentinean Press Reports of the 1920s’. He began his discourse by quoting from Tim Vickery's foreword to The Football Crónicas, that 'Football is a universal language that we speak with different accents'. He went on to talk about the influence of language in establishing different playing styles, particularly in relation to Spanish, Italian and English in Argentina. Returning to Vickery's foreword, Christian explained how most Brazilians never saw footage of Brazil's early World Cup triumphs: they relied on radio match commentaries, commentaries that were highly imaginative and embelished, but that Brazilian players nevertheless had to live up to on the pitch afterwards. Perhaps having to try to replicate such impossible feats forced Brazilian footballers to attempt the extraordinary; perhaps the words of the radio commentators shaped Brazil's adventurous playing style. Christian's research and conclusions will be presented in late 2014 and promise to make rewarding reading.

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The Cambridge Rules

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The Football Crónicas began its world tour last night with a launch event at the Hot Numbers cafe in Cambridge. Things got off to a bit of a false start with the no-show of Peruvian author Diego Trelles Paz, stuck in Paris without a travel visa. But the book's co-editor, Jethro Soutar, and one of the book's translators, Rachael McGill, filled in, speaking about the book, translation, football and crónicas, before reading from 'The Goal-Begetting Women of the Andes' (by Marco Avilés, the crónica Rachael translated) and 'Football and Plague' (by Diego, a short story translated by Jethro). Questions from the floor then followed, from a lively audience that included several members of the Cambridge University Centre of Latin American Studies, and Christian Schwartz, a Brazilian translator (Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch being one of the books he's rendered into Portuguese). Thanks to everyone who came along and made it a good night, and to Hot Numbers for being such an excellent host.

 

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From Amazon to Zico

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It was a pleasure to take part in last night’s Fans' Forum, an A-to-Z of Brazil, from Amazon to Zico. England fans planning to travel to Brazil for the World Cup filled the downstairs room of the New Moon pub in Leadenhall Market, for a fact-finding evening on what to expect over there.

The first speaker was Alex Ellis, the British Ambassador to Brazil (in the photo). People wanted to know whether Brazil was going to be ready in time, and he said yes, that Brazil can be chaotic but things can also get done fast there. He said the stadiums will be ready and the airports will be fine; it will be the connections (getting from the airport to the hotel; getting to and from the ground) where delays are more likely to occur – ‘give yourselves plenty of time to get to the ground’, he advised.

Sue Branford, from the Latin America Bureau, a former Brazil correspondent, talked about LAB’s guide to Brazil (Brazil Inside Out). People asked about the protests in Brazil and she gave them some background on underlying social and political issues.

Alex Bellos, author of Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life, a brilliant book about Brazil that takes football as its theme (a book of crónicas no less), spoke about Manaus, where England will play their first game. Those present had heard only bad things about Manaus, but Bellos reassured them that it’s a fascinating city, very odd but totally unique; that yes, there’s the jungle to visit and the opera house, but also beautiful river beaches and an amazing amateur football scene. He touched on the protests too: it was the consensus on the panel that things could get ugly if Brazil are knocked out early, but Bellos pointed out that at the Confederations Cup last year, the Brazil team sided with the protesters and this helped generate team and terrace spirit, pride and unity, and they were unstoppable as a result.

No European team has ever won a World Cup in the America; I was asked whether this was about to change. I said that all the Latin American teams, but especially Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Uruguay, go into the tournament quietly confident, believing they can go very far. I noted that Felipe Scolari, the Brazil manager, has stated he’s keen to avoid Chile in the second round (the alternatives are Spain or the Netherlands) and that tells its own story: obviously Scolari fears Brazil’s neighbours more than he does the Europeans.

I was also asked about travelling fans from Latin America. Having canvassed opinion from The Football Crónicas authors, I was able to tell the audience that a lot of Colombians, Chileans, Argentinians and Uruguayans are planning to travel, less so Mexico (there’ll be a decent contingent, but it’s a very expensive package) and Costa Rica (estimates are for 1,000 Ticos to hit Brazil). A lot of people will be travelling without tickets and there is controversy surrounding ticket allocations. In the Fifa ballot, Argentina were particularly hard done by: having applied for 260,000 tickets, Argentinians were allocated just 4,500. It did not go unnoticed that Canada, not even at the World Cup, never mind not a next-door neighbour, got 13,000. Conspiracy theories abound.

Chile applied for 102,000 and got fewer than 4,500 tickets. This scuppered the plans of many, not least the Mayor of Salamanca, who promised to take 1,000 people to Brazil for the World Cup, if he won the elections: he duly did, but tickets have been hard to come by. Nevertheless, a caravan of 25 buses is due to make its way, slowly but surely, to Brazil early next month.

It was an interesting night and I, representing Ragpicker Press and The Football Crónicas, was very glad to have been invited. Thanks to everyone who took part.

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DF Dispatch

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From Mexico City, co-editor Tim Girven uncovers the perfect mascot for our book:
The Latin American Camus

Whenever a conversation touches on literature and football, it's a commonplace to cite Albert Camus and his time as a goalkeeper for Racing Universitaire d'Alger juniors.

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The Most Brazilian Group of All

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In the first of two weekend updates to come live and direct from the Latam tropics, Vinicius Jatobá kicks off our final funding push with his own unique take on last Friday's World Cup draw:

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Post World Cup Draw

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So, England get to play in the Amazon. I can recommend Rooney and co a fantastic jungle trail just outside Manaus, though possibly not the backpackers' hostel I stayed in.

Then São Paulo. Wow! As Marlene Dietrich said, "Rio is a beauty. But São Paulo, ah... São Paulo is a city." Any England fans planning to travel to Sampa should check out the São Cristovão in Vila Madalena, a bar packed full with football memorabilia, including a Sheffield United pennant in pride of place.

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World Cup Draw Day

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It's said that a Brazilian passport is valued second only to a US passport on the black market, because you can basically come from anywhere in the world and look Brazilian. The country has an indigenous Amerindian population alongside legacies of European colonialism and black slavery; it has the largest population of Japanese ancestry outside Japan, hosts the biggest Oktoberfest outside Germany, has more people of Lebanese or Syrian extraction than the populations of Lebanon and Syria combined, and vast numbers of second and third generation Italians, Spaniards and Portuguese.

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