José Carlos Sebe Bom Meihy
Robert Levine tells the story of Carolina Maria de Jesus (1914-1977), Brazilian, Black, illegitimate, extremely poor, and Brazil's best-selling author upon the publication of her journals.
Carolina Maria de Jesus' book, Quarto de Despejo (The Trash Room), depicted the harsh life of the slums, but it also spoke of the author's pride in her blackness, her high moral standards, and her patriotism. More than a million copies of her diary are believed to have been sold worldwide. Yet many Brazilians refused to believe that someone like de Jesus could have written such a diary, with its complicated words (some of them misused) and often lyrical phrasing as she discussed world events. Doubters prefer to believe the book was either written by Audáulio Dantas, the enterprising newspaper reporter who discovered her, or that Dantas rewrote it so substantially that her book is a fraud. With the cooperation of de Jesus' daughter, recent research shows that although Dantas deleted considerable portions of the diary (as well as a second one), every word was de Jesus'.
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