Samuel Titan Jr. (Editora 34, Brazil)

Samuel Titan Jr. studied philosophy and literature in São Paulo, Brazil, where he teaches Comparative Literature at the University of São Paulo. Besides working as a literary translator into Portuguese, he directs Fabula, a literary imprint at Editora 34, and co-edits Serrote, a quarterly review of essays. At Fabula he published classics such as Voltaire and Mérimée, and the contemporary list includes Ferrari’s Sermon sur la chute de Rome and Jean Echenoz’s 14 - a novel inspired by a real journal kept by a WW I soldier.


A desire for intelligibility

  • The incorporation of fiction into non-fiction has to do with a collective desire for intelligibility in a world teeming with contradictory facts. In other words, it has to do with our desire for a ‘reality made reliable, stable, understandable by imagination’. The results might add up to a certain form of Ersatz reality.
  • Fictional tools may be used to placate reality’s infinite capacity to surprise and frustrate and irritate and enlighten us. I’m kind of suspicious of a certain use of narrative devices that tends to make everything ‘read like a novel’ - not least because this quite often presupposes a very conservative understanding of what the novel is all about.
  • The novel first stepped onto the literary scene as a genre in which fiction and non-fiction were forced to face each other. Maybe the non-fiction novel has to do with taking distance from a kind of fictional extravaganza: the rise of romance (be it sentimental, soft-porn, sci-fi or fantastic) in all genres and medias.
  • Genre used to be a critical term, but now it has become little more than a tag to sort books in a bookstore – and to help ‘fans’ find their way to their usual menu.