All Dogs are Blue, written by Rodrigo de Souza Leão, and translated by Zoe Perry and Stefan Tobler.

This is the first real book I read as part of my challenge. In the beginning of the year, I had read books I received for Christmas, so was able to check off some of the easier countries from my list: Australia, United Kingdom, United States of America.

After I finished Ken Follet’s epic story, Edge of Eternity, and still had an afternoon free in front of me, I went looking on our own bookshelves for something else to read. I picked up All Dogs are Blue by Brazilian author, Rodrigo de Souza Leão.  It appeared to be a short book, which is probably what I needed after the previous book of 1098 pages.  But in its own way, this book is exhausting.

I didn’t know much about this book beyond what was on the back cover. It includes an introduction from another author, Deborah Levy, which helped set the scene for me a lot.  There are things that happen later in the book that made more sense with the context that Deborah had created. 

 I have been to Brazil, but done the usual touristy things. Copacabana beach, Christ the redeemer, all that stuff.  None of this features in the book.  This book explore mental illness, which perhaps could be universal.  Treatment and conditions probably vary in different countries, but this book is about a man lost in his psychosis.

This story is confusing and erratic, probably similar to living with psychosis. This semi-autobiographical story shares the author’s experiences of living with schizophrenia. Some sentences are so powerful and then spiral into a more confusing place. There is an underlying feeling of heartbreak.

I was grateful for the endnotes.  There were a number of references to things specifically Brazilian that I definitely would have missed on my own.  Different phrases, local festivals, references to local poets and songs.  The translators did a great job in helping us understand these things.

I feel that perhaps I am not intelligent enough to fully comprehend the importance of this work. I am glad I read it though and I might re-read it again in the future. I think one could probably discover more in the text on re-reading it. 

 This book has been adapted for the theatre, which would be interesting to check out.

Leão also wrote nine other books and was the co-founder of the electronic poetry magazine Zunái.  He rarely left his home, but used social media to stay connected with the world and was able to connect with other Brazilian writers.  He died in a psychiatric care facility shortly after this book was released, with his other works being published since then. You can learn more about Leão at http://www.andotherstories.org/author/rodrigo-de-souza-leao/

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