The book’s unusual title, ‘Opisanie świata’, which in Polish translates as ‘description of the world’, is also the Polish title of ‘The Travels of Marco Polo’. Written as a sort of fictional travelogue, jumping from one richly recounted vignette to another, mixing third-person narrative, letters and diary entries, and even a bit of poetry, the book follows Opalka and Bopp on a transatlantic journey from Poland to the Amazon on the eve of World War II. Their trip is described through interesting degrees of intertextuality, alluding to Brazilian authors of that time, and range from the absurd and hilarious, to sentimental and sweet. This longer format has allowed Veronica Stigger to be just as daring, surreal and funny as in her previous work, but also has given her room to create a fascinating and multifaceted story that spans decades of history and an ocean. The result is a stunning and delicate debut novel that feels at once contemporary and classic, a love letter to Brazilian modernism.
~ Zoë Perry
He was a squat man, with arms and legs like little logs. Round face, encircled by thick strands of dark brown hair cut in the shape of a helmet — a strange haircut, further accentuating the roundness of his face. The underside of his protruding belly was not contained within his crimson shirt: it sprang forth from below and through the gaps between the buttons created by the pressure of his plump body under the form-fitting fabric. The only thing gaunt about him was his mustache: thin, long and with the ends slightly turned upward. It was not the fashion, nor would it ever be, but that was how he liked to wear it. Although it was hot that August, over the crimson shirt and light linen trousers he wore a long, garishly printed silk kimono, so long it dragged the ground, bringing with it dust, sand, pebbles and any other detritus it might find along the way. He was lugging four suitcases of different sizes: one in each hand and one under each stocky arm. Upon seeing Opalka seated on one of the station benches, engrossed in his newspaper, he grinned. He hastened his step, tripped on the hem of his kimono and came crashing to the ground just a few feet from the bench. As he fell, the four suitcases shot forward, clattering around Opalka’s feet and knocking over Opalka’s small trunk, which, in turn, toppled his basket. His lemons — one dozen of them — all rolled out. One of them spun off toward the tracks, while the others stopped beneath the bench between Opalka’s legs and around the basket and trunk. The man, having leapt to his feet, dived to the ground, as if into a swimming pool, trying to capture the lemon. But it was in vain: his arms were too short to reach it and the lemon finally rolled onto the tracks. Opalka, who had been following the scene in astonishment from behind his newspaper, then began gathering up the remaining lemons. But the man was already on his feet again, dusting off his kimono, and held up one hand to stop Opalka. Disobeying him, Opalka lay the newspaper on the bench beside him, and bent down. When he went to grab one of the lemons that was closest to his left foot, the man again gestured with his hand and shouted in German:
Surprised, Opalka stopped, looked at the man and sat up again, giving up on the lemon. The man smiled at him and, limping, picked up the basket and placed the eleven lemons, one by one, back inside. Opalka returned to his newspaper. After filling the basket, the man lifted up the small trunk, whacked it with his right hand to remove the dirt and leaned it against the bench, next to Opalka’s feet. This distracted Opalka from his newspaper for a moment, and he looked sidelong at the man. The newcomer was now arranging his own suitcases. He organized them according to size, directly in front of the bench where Opalka was seated: the smallest one at Opalka’s feet and the largest in front of the place he had chosen to sit. Finally, the little man took a seat beside Opalka, who shot him another sideways glance. The man studied every inch of his kimono and clicked his tongue now and again against the roof of his mouth, shaking his head from side to side, cross. Opalka could no longer pay attention to the newspaper. He watched the man who, after clicking his tongue and shaking his head from side to side, bent down at an angle toward the ground, reaching for the smallest of his suitcases. As he had not risen from his seat, his body brushed against Opalka’s knees. Opalka clutched the newspaper to his chest to keep it from being crumpled by the man’s head, as he, in turn, rummaged around and around in his suitcase, grunting and sighing the entire time. Not finding what he was looking for, he got up and bent down in front of it. He again started rummaging around, sticking his head partway inside the suitcase. Opalka shook his paper, as if to smooth it, and went back to reading, but once again he was interrupted, this time by a jubilant cry from below:
Opalka could no longer pay attention to the newspaper. He watched the man who, after clicking his tongue and shaking his head from side to side, bent down at an angle toward the ground, reaching for the smallest of his suitcases.
Opalka peered once more over his newspaper and there was the man, now standing, holding a knife in one hand and, in the other, an apple, like a trophy. He sat down beside him and, before eating, turned to Opalka and asked him in Polish:
“May I help you?
To which Opalka, taking his eyes from his paper once again, said, also in Polish:
“I beg your pardon?”
The man frowned, offered the apple to Opalka and repeated:
“May I help you?”
Opalka lowered the newspaper, looked at the man and replied, again in Polish:
“I’m sorry. But I don’t believe I’ve understood you.”
The man heaved a deep sigh and looked around, as if searching for someone who could help. He looked at his little suitcase and then down at his hands, now occupied by the knife and the apple. Realizing the man’s dilemma, Opalka asked him, still in Polish:
“May I help you?”
The man turned to Opalka and frowned again. Unsure, he handed him the apple, waving it gently, making it clear with this gesture that he was offering Opalka the fruit. Pretending not to see the apple being offered to him, Opalka repeated:
“May I help you?”
Without saying a word, the man stared at Opalka and then at the apple and the knife, which were still in his hands. Opalka put the paper down on the seat beside him and held out both arms, motioning with his fingers for the man to pass him the apple and knife. The man beamed and handed him both fruit and knife. Then he wiped one hand on the other and went to his small suitcase. He rummaged around in it some more, while Opalka watched with the knife and apple still in his hands. Finally, the man took out a travel guidebook on Warsaw, in English, and two black notebooks, visibly well-used. He returned to his seat beside Opalka, noisily flipping through the guidebook. He thumbed through the pages, back and forth, but didn’t seem to find what he was looking for. Now and then, he clicked his tongue and grunted incomprehensibly in an unidentifiable language. Finally, he closed the book in disgust and placed it on the seat, right on top of Opalka’s newspaper. He crossed his legs and took up the two black notebooks. He thumbed through one. He thumbed through the other. He again picked up the first one, this time turning the pages more slowly, before stopping at one. A huge grin spread across his face, which had been growing increasingly dispirited. He turned to Opalka and was about to speak, when he realized that Opalka was still holding the apple and knife. The man, who was holding the black notebook in his right hand, held out his left hand to take back the apple and knife. Opalka gave him the apple, but couldn’t hand him the knife because the man’s hand was very small, and couldn’t hold both things at once. The man returned the apple to Opalka and laid the notebook on his lap. To keep it open at the page he was interested in, he laid the other black notebook across it. Once he’d done this, he took back the apple and knife. He turned to Opalka and, reading from the notebook, said in Polish:
“Would you like some, sir?”
Opalka smiled and thanked him, also in Polish:
“That is very kind of you, but no. Thank you very much.”
Then he tugged at the newspaper, which was on the seat under the guidebook, and tried to continue reading. The man, in turn, peeled the entire apple before cutting it into small pieces, which he put in his mouth and chewed happily. Opalka could not get past one page — he had already read the same paragraph three times — because the noise of the man’s chewing distracted him. He attempted, for the fourth time, to understand what was written when he was startled by a new commotion. The man, who had just found a worm in his apple, had stood up to lob the fruit and knife onto the empty tracks, as he shouted, furious, in his own language:
“A worm! Yuck!”
He walked to the edge of the platform and spat the lump of chewed apple out onto the rails.
Opalka could not get past one page — he had already read the same paragraph three times — because the noise of the man’s chewing distracted him.
“Yuck! Yuck! Yuck!”
Finally, he stuck the middle finger of his right hand down his throat and tried to make himself throw up, unsuccessfully. He was preparing to repeat this action, when Opalka, who had been watching it all in disbelief, tried to avoid an unpleasant outcome and told him in Portuguese:
“Don’t do that. There’s no need. A little worm in your apple won’t do you any harm.”
The man stopped. Stunned, he turned to Opalka and said, now in Portuguese:
“You speak Portuguese! Why didn’t you tell me before?”
“Because I didn’t know you spoke Portuguese,” Opalka replied. “How could I have guessed?”
The noise of the train pulling into the station muffled the man’s voice, which prevented Opalka from hearing the end of his sentence. When the train stopped, Opalka said (from then on always in Portuguese):
“Our train’s arrived.” And, given the large number of suitcases the man was carrying, asked him: “May I help you?”
The man thanked him for the offer, but rejected his assistance. Opalka picked up his small trunk and the basket with the eleven lemons, where he had also placed the newspaper, and boarded the train. From inside his compartment, he looked out the window and watched the man drop the four suitcases on the ground. He tried to pick up the two largest, holding the smaller ones under his short, stocky arms, but it didn’t work. When he bent down to grab the larger suitcases, the smaller ones would invariably fall. Opalka placed the crumpled newspaper in the breast pocket of his white summer suit and got off the train. He went up to the man and said:
“Let me help you.”
Without giving the man time to reply, he took one small suitcase and one large suitcase and boarded the train. The man, who could not stop thanking him, also boarded the train, carrying the other two suitcases. Opalka let him go ahead and then followed him to his compartment. There, he placed the two suitcases he had helped carry onto the luggage rack overhead. The man tried to do the same, but his short arms couldn’t reach that high. Opalka took the two remaining suitcases and placed them alongside the others. Then he extended his right hand to the man and said goodbye, wishing him a pleasant trip. The man shook his hand effusively, returning his kind wishes. Opalka then went to his compartment. Upon arriving, he took off his hat and sat down next to the window. He retrieved his newspaper from his jacket pocket, gave it a shake in a futile attempt to smooth it out, then resumed reading, waiting for the train to depart.
Row, row, row
After the first dinner on board, when boredom had yet to settle in and the passengers barely knew one another — saying hello solely out of politeness, and thus a long way from any foreseeable future outpourings of friendship — Bopp went on deck. With his elbows resting on the railing in front of the lounger where Opalka was taking a nap, he peered over his shoulder at the horizon and quietly hummed:
Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream,
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.
After the first dinner on board, when boredom had yet to settle in and the passengers barely knew one another — saying hello solely out of politeness, and thus a long way from any foreseeable future outpourings of friendship — Bopp went on deck.
He repeated the song twice and stopped. Turning around to face the sea, he began to whistle the melody. A short, well-built woman who was seated to Opalka’s left, two loungers down, began to sing along in a marked Spanish accent:
Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream,
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.
One gentlemen who was standing leaning against the railing some ten meters from Bopp, soon joined the choir. His wife, a tall, stunningly beautiful woman whose hand he was holding, followed suit. Excited, Bopp turned back to face them and began to sing again. Not long after, the girls keeping the well-built woman company — much too young to be her daughters and too old to be her granddaughters — joined in, giggling. The singing awakened Opalka. A tall, thin man in his forties, with a chiseled face and disheveled hair, approached the singing group. His companion, a blond man of the same height, but more portly and with a frightened look in his eyes, was not far behind. Only Opalka remained silent, but a near-smile crept across his face. Bopp conducted the singers like a real maestro. He wanted to create a medley of voices, the way children did when they sang the tune. When they reached the second verse, the girls started again from the top, while the well-built woman went on ahead. As the girls sang the second verse, the couple leaning against the railing began the song. The well-built woman was already singing the fourth and final verse by the time the tall men entered the chorus. And so they continued, voices intermingled, until, as always happens with this game, without anyone realizing, they were all singing the same part.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.
Don’t Go, Margarida!
They were four: a little girl, two boys and a white mutt with a black muzzle. The girl couldn’t have been older than five. She was thin, leggy. Her hair, fine and straight, almost black, was cut in a shoulder-length bob. Blunt bangs covered her eyebrows, reaching almost to her lashes, making her blink repeatedly. The two boys could have been twins. They were fair-skinned with light eyes and blond, curly hair. Shorter than the girl, they weren’t a day over four. The three children were crammed into a metal barrel around one and a half meters in diameter, cut some fifty centimeters up from the ground and filled with water. The little girl was seated, water chest-high. She wore a loose-fitting, black one-piece bathing suit that left her legs completely exposed. Now and then, she would slide down and plunge under the water, pinching her nose with her fingers. The boys, standing, wore navy blue shorts and tank tops, looking like little boxers. One of them tried to lower himself in, but, finding nowhere to sit — the girl, her legs apart, occupied the entire floor of the barrel — stood back up again. The other boy stomped around in the water and laughed. He stomped so hard the water sloshed out, drenching the dog, who was bounding around the barrel, barking. The more the water splashed, and the more the dog barked, the more he laughed. Joining in the game, the girl also began to scoop water out of the barrel. Now the dog leapt up high, snapping at the water as it flew through the air. The boy who had been trying to sit down gave up on this enterprise and, standing, also began to scoop out water.
“Let’s see who can throw it the farthest,” challenged the little girl in Spanish.
She stood up with the others, filled her little cupped hands and launched the liquid forward. The boys immediately imitated her. Whenever the water reached the ship’s balustrade, even if only just, they would cackle with laughter, throwing their heads back, and stomping their feet, arms in the air, wiggling their hips from side to side, in an insane, impromptu dance. Dona Oliva, with her cane, tried to make her way through — the barrel was right in the middle of the path between the stern and the entrance to the cabins — but retreated in the face of the numerous puddles that had formed on deck, making it slippery. Opalka, in his lounge chair, watched everything from afar, eyes squinting in the intense glare of the sultry early afternoon. His mind wandered, trying to remember if he had ever seen someone’s pet — a dog, a cat, a bird — on any of the ships he had sailed on, but he couldn’t recall a single one. The children seemed not to have noticed Dona Oliva’s presence. They continued to hurl water onto the deck. Suddenly, the sound of something heavy falling to the floor — a person, a chair, a trunk? — caught the attention of the dog, who stopped barking and turned, silent, ears pricked, in the direction of the sound, a corner of the deck behind Opalka. Realizing the dog was moving away, the boy who, earlier on, had been trying to sit down began to shout from inside the barrel.
The more the water splashed, and the more the dog barked, the more he laughed.
“Margarida, don’t go! Please, stay with us!”
He leaned over the side of the barrel, as far as he could without actually getting out, and arms outstretched, as if it were possible to reach the dog, he begged, with tears in his eyes:
“Margariiiida, please stay!”
The others, watching the dog move further away, formed a chorus:
“Margariiiiiida, please come back, come back to us! We can’t live without you.”
Margarida didn’t even look back. She seemed not to hear them. She continued swiftly and decisively toward the source of the noise. Opalka watched Margarida slip round a corner and out of the children’s sight. Clinging to the edges of the barrel, they shouted even louder for Margarida to return. The other boy also reached out his arms. Weeping profusely, he implored:
“Don’t go, Margarida, please don’t go.”
The girl moved to and fro inside the barrel, as if looking for a way out, as she, also in tears, called Margarida back. The first boy, hands cupped around his mouth, hollered skywards, to the heavens, to some god:
“Margarida, don’t leave us, we love you.”
Opalka was getting ready to go fetch Margarida, who was near him, when, out of nowhere, Bopp appeared — for some reason carrying one of his heavy suitcases — and abruptly bent down, hurling the suitcase aside, and grabbing hold of Margarida, who, frightened by such an abrupt gesture, crouched and froze. Then Bopp picked her up and carried her to the children who, still inside the barrel, jumped and clapped, delighted, soaking the deck once and for all.
Our Lady of Desire
In the afternoon, Dona Oliva found herself all but alone on deck, reclining in one of the loungers. Most of the passengers had retreated to their cabins, in order to recover from the party that had lasted until morning. Hans and Curto Chivito were asleep in an embrace on the floor. They slumbered so soundly no one dared wake them. Dona Oliva hadn’t slept a wink. She couldn’t bear her nieces running off like that. To make matters worse, as they approached the coast, the ship began to teem with mosquitos, and Dona Oliva couldn’t stand mosquitos. As soon as she’d closed her eyes, the buzz of the insects would wake her. She was about to burst into tears, such was her despair, when, out of the corner of her eye, she caught sight of a woman a few feet away. When she turned to see who it was, all she found were Hans and Curto Chivito, lying on the floor, snoring. Dona Oliva looked around again, but still couldn’t see the woman. She shrugged and closed her eyes to try and take a nap. Then she felt something brush against her face, ever so gently. She thought it was a mosquito. Angry, she opened her eyes, ready to swat the cursed thing, and was now face-to-face with the woman, who was sitting in the chair beside her. She wore a floor-length white dress, with long sleeves and a high neck. It was made of lots of cloth, so much cloth that, when she settled into the chair, the dress draped in folds over her legs and down to the floor. She looked like she’d stepped out of a painting. On her head, the woman wore a white lace veil, airy and flowing. It must have been the veil that brushed across my face when she went past, thought Dona Oliva. The veil was secured atop the woman’s brown hair with a golden crown. Dona Oliva had never seen her on the ship and said so. The woman told her she was Our Lady of Desire, and that she was just passing through. She was quite pale, nearly the color of her dress, and Dona Oliva imagined the mosquitos must have a grand old time feasting on such fair skin.
To make matters worse, as they approached the coast, the ship began to teem with mosquitos, and Dona Oliva couldn’t stand mosquitos.
So she asked the woman if the veil was for the mosquitos. The woman laughed and said no, but it did work splendidly for that purpose, as it kept them at a more agreeable distance. Whenever there got to be too many, she told Dona Oliva, all she had to do was bring the two edges together to form a little mosquito-proof tent. It made for a divine mosquito net. The woman asked if Dona Oliva wanted to try on the veil. Dona Oliva nodded and the woman got up, removed the crown and veil and placed them on Dona Oliva’s head. She brought the two edges together and left her there inside. The mosquitos couldn’t touch her. It was delightful.
“Heaven,” Dona Oliva told the woman.
The woman smiled and, before she left Dona Oliva with the veil, said:
“That’s right, you’re absolutely correct. Heaven is just like this, only without the mosquitos.”
It’s all over
As Natanael had promised, Jean-Pierre was waiting for Opalka at the harbor. It was easy to pick him out among the crowd of curious onlookers and those awaiting friends or relatives to come ashore. He was the tallest and whitest man around. He wore a floppy straw hat, alligator sandals, exposing his toes, baggy, pale linen trousers folded up to mid-ankle, a cotton shirt of the same color, sleeves rolled, and on top, a green-patterned satin waistcoat. A plush alligator around a meter long, the same shade of green as his waistcoat, was draped over his right shoulder. He was accompanied by four women: one white, two indians, and one oriental. They all had tanned skin and were dressed alike: leather sandals, just like Jean-Pierre’s, white cotton dresses with high lace collars, and numerous colorful beaded necklaces. Their hair, worn loose, cascaded down their backs, nearly to the waist. None of them wore a hat. Jean-Pierre walked toward Opalka, who had just disembarked, followed by Bopp and his suitcases.
“Just as Natanael told me: you two look very similar,” said Jean-Pierre, rolling his Rs. “I’m Jean-Pierre and these are the Clodiás,” he added, extending his right hand to Opalka and then Bopp.
Bopp found it strange that the women all had the same name. Jean-Pierre smiled and told him that originally they had not. The only true Clodiá was the white woman, the eldest of the four, who had come to the Amazon with Jean-Pierre over twenty years ago. He had acquired the two indian women, who were the youngest, in the jungle some time ago. The oriental woman he’d brought back from China, when he visited the country the previous year. He no longer remembered what the indian and Chinese women were called: their names were very difficult. He said he’d begun calling them all Clodiá to keep from mixing up their names. All the women he had been involved with had become Clodiá. The same would be true for future relationships. If, by chance, he one day had a daughter, she would also be named Clodiá. It was simpler and more practical that way, and avoided undue hassle. All these various names get us nowhere — they just make men confused, he said, adding that men today have enough on their minds as it is. If, on top of everything else, a man has to memorize the names of his various wives, he’ll go mad! Opalka listened quietly, looking as though he wasn’t paying attention to the conversation, and Bopp thought it best not to reply.
Jean-Pierre ordered the Clodiás to take the new arrivals’ luggage to the car. Opalka and Bopp objected. They would never allow them to carry their suitcases. But the Clodiás, ignoring their protests, closed in and, before the men could even react, picked up their suitcases and ran off toward the car, a black Ford pickup truck. Bopp ran after them. Seeing they were being followed, the Clodiás quickened their step. The white woman — who was the oldest and the most haggard — was unable to keep pace with the others and soon Bopp caught up with her, yanking her by her long hair. She was clutching the smallest of Bopp’s cases. With the sudden halt, she dropped it. It came crashing to the ground and the lock broke, scattering across the pier clothes, notebooks and souvenirs from all over the world. Bopp let the Clodiá go and stooped to collect his things, stuffing everything back willynilly into the suitcase. When nothing else remained on the ground, he closed the suitcase and ran off with it in his arms, only to trip on a rock and fall a few steps away. The Clodiá seized the opportunity to reclaim the suitcase and ran toward the car as fast as she could. The other Clodiás were waiting seated atop the suitcases, which they had loaded onto the pickup’s luggage rack. The white Clodiá arrived at the truck panting, her face blotchy and red from exertion. She placed the remaining suitcase beside the others and jumped into the back of the truck, joining her companions. Bopp, no less winded than her, leapt in and sat down beside her. Jean-Pierre, without removing the plush alligator from his shoulder, took the wheel and Opalka sat in the passenger seat.
Opalka gazed absentmindedly out the window. He didn’t recognize the city he had once considered adopting as his own some thirty-five years earlier. Everything was changed.
“Would you like to go straight to the hospital, or would you prefer to stop by Natanael’s house first to drop off your things?”
“Please, let’s go straight to the hospital.”
The pickup lurched along the potholed streets. Opalka gazed absentmindedly out the window. He didn’t recognize the city he had once considered adopting as his own some thirty-five years earlier. Everything was changed. Not so much the buildings, which were still the same, but everything else. The city had lost its former luster. It was drab. People were hunched over and sad. They walked with their heads down, looking at the ground, at the granite sidewalks, before so new, now cracked and worn.
“This was all really great once,” said Jean-Pierre when he noticed Opalka. “But not anymore. When I arrived, it was bustling. There were people here from all over. But I’m sure you know that already. From what Natanael’s told me, you were here when the city was in its heyday. But all that’s in the past. Today the city’s dead. You’re going to have to get used to it. Because you know you can’t go back, right? At least not for now. Haven’t you heard the news? Poland is finished. They announced it today. Done for. Occupied. Soon the whole of Europe will cease to exist, if it still does. No, the thing to do is to stay right here. Enjoy it, before this town dies once and for all. At least it’s hot here. Not horribly cold, like Europe. And it’s green. Beautifully green. A pity all that will be gone one day, too.”
Jean-Pierre paused before he continued.
“Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about this city. About what to do with this city. You know, I’ve got money. A lot of money. I raise alligators as a hobby, but I’m making a fortune selling these sandals. These right here, the ones I’m wearing. They’re the same ones the Clodiás wear. Ronaldo,” he said, pointing to the plush alligator on his shoulder, “is my good luck charm. Brings me luck. Keeps the money rolling in, makes sure I don’t miss out on one measly cent. With all that money, I could build a theatre, even nicer than the one they’ve got here. Bigger, flashier, more ornate. I could fill it with gold. I could put on classical music festivals. I could bring over guest performers from abroad: tenors, sopranos, pianists. Or even that young lady from the Urca Casino who’s making it big in the States. I could put on theatre festivals too. Maybe even invest in training local troupes. Build music schools, fine arts schools. Bring over all kinds of people from abroad, people who have nowhere to go, now that Europe’s falling apart. I could build other things as well. Cinemas perhaps. Music venues. I could put together a schedule of events for the whole year, a major attraction each week. Stir things up in this town. Put it on the map. Turn it into this country’s great cultural hub, the city of the future. The future! But,” concluded Jean-Pierre, parking the truck in front of the hospital, “I just keep asking myself, what the hell for?”
Veronica Stigger is a writer, art critic, curator and university professor from Porto Alegre, Brazil, and has lived in São Paulo since 2001. In addition to her own published collections of critically-acclaimed short fiction, her work has been included in several anthologies both in Brazil and abroad, and translated to Catalan, Spanish, French, Swedish, German, and Italian. ‘Opisanie świata’, her first novel, was awarded the 2013 Machado de Assis prize, the 2014 Açorianos prize, the 2014 São Paulo Literature prize for a Debut Author over 40, and was a finalist for both the Portugal Telecom and Jabuti prizes.
Zoë Perry is a Canadian-American translator who grew up in rural southeastern Kentucky and is currently based in London. She has translated work by several contemporary Portuguese-language authors, including Rodrigo de Souza Leão, Carlos Henrique Schroeder, Lourenço Mutarelli, and Sérgio Rodrigues. In 2015, Zoe was translator-in-residence at the Paraty International Literary Festival (FLIP) in Brazil, and was awarded a PEN/Heim grant for her translation of Veronica Stigger’s ‘Opisanie świata’.