This is a good assortment of stories, but the versions presented here are quite different from the originals. Concurrently with this issue, Granta's Brazilian affiliate published its issue 9, « O melhores jovens escritores brasileiros ». Each issue contains 20 stories by as many authors; 14 of them appear in both languages, while in the cases of 6 authors, a different story is presented in English and in Portuguese. On its own, each edition is a better than average anthology, maybe around 4.5 stars. It's when I compared the two that I felt at least another star must come off.
As far as the substance of the stories goes, I enjoyed about two-thirds of them, and admired a couple more, even though I wasn't always so keen on the most common themes or moods in the collection. Stories about difficult relations with parents or about events in the past outnumber more romantic stories, for example, and rather serious stories far outnumber more light-hearted or suspenseful ones. No stories focus on working life, and there isn't much that is anchored in Brazilian history or society specifically, other than two stories about Rio, a loving meditation on the city by Tatiana Salem Levy and an entertaining rant by J.P. Cuenca. Those two stories, the politically-themed story by Julián F. [sorry: Amazon's robots misread his name as an obscenity], and an entertaining tale of suburban consumerism by A. Prata were probably my favorites in the English edition. I also enjoyed some stories about contemporary urban life by A. Xerxenesky and C. Bensimon. Xerxenesky is one of the six authors with different stories in the two issues, the others being L. Sarmatz, L. Geisler, R. Luisas, C. Mattoso, and C. Saavedra. Some of these contributions were better in one language or the other, or equally good in both, or equally annoying -- so it would be tough for me to say that either the English or the Portuguese version has a better selection. One tip, though: Salem Levy's very lyrical story ends the Brazilian volume, and I would recommend reading it last in English, too. The story that closes the English volume, "Apnoea," by Daniel Galera is quite strong, but in a much darker mood.
It may matter to some readers, though, to know that the stories in the English-language edition have been very puzzlingly, or even disturbingly, edited. Important descriptive phrases or even whole sentences or paragraphs have been elided in almost every story. In some cases (e.g., stories by Julián F., J. Arancibia Contreras and M. Del Castillo) these changes occur in the *final sentence* of the story, effectively shifting the meaning of the whole work. (On the other hand, a phrase has been added to the end of E. Fraia's story as if to make its point more obvious, but this intervention is relatively harmless.)
I don't want to spoil the plots of the stories for those will read them only in English, so I'll cite just a couple of mild examples. In the Portuguese version of Fraia's "A Temporary Stay," the tennis-playing protagonist is referred to by only a personal pronoun throughout; in the English-language version he is given a name, Nilo. The final sentence of the Portuguese version of Del Castillo's "Violeta" brings some nice closure; in the English version, the entire sentence is dropped, making the story much flatter. C. Aguiar's "Teresa" is divided into numbered sections in the original, making its parable-like structure easier to understand; these are eliminated in English.
Salem Levy's story is also told in short episodes, and the original's divisions between these have not been strictly observed, which results in changing the meaning of some passages. And while the ending of that story wasn't tampered with, there are many other important changes to the text. An entire section of 100 words has been dropped. The story is addressed to the narrator's lover, abandoned in some Northern Hemisphere (European?) city when the narrator decided to return to Rio, but many deletions erase the narrator's affect toward that character. E.g., whenever the narrator address the lover with the phrase "meu amor" ("my love"), this is not reflected in the English. Important sentences and adverbial phrases in the second section of the story, describing the lover's reaction to the news of the narrator's departure, have also been suppressed. And the English title of the story, "Blazing Sun" continues in this vein: the original name was "O Rio sua" -- "Your Rio", addressed to the lover. Changing this not only furthers the erasure of the lover but ignores an important meaning of the story: as the narrator says near the end, "I think that I don't need you in order to have you with me, after all." The new title is a bad choice for a simpler reason, as well: the narrator repeatedly emphasizes the *humidity* of the city, not its sunlight.
The sample above is a tiny fraction of the changes like this that I found -- and there could easily be others. I can't rule out that some were proposed by the authors themselves, but it seems unlikely that so many authors felt that their stories in Portuguese needed so much improvement, and always by cutting (the exception being Fraia's story, where material was added in a couple of places). It also is hard to believe that so many different translators would drop such important chunks of so many stories through carelessness. In any case, it should have been up to the editors to have caught such errors (and simpler ones: even with my so-so Portuguese I was able to find the occasional howler, such as when the Portuguese for "hour" was translated as "day," @171). My suspicion is rather that it was the editors who instigated these ubiquitous random and disfiguring cuts. Fortunately, even when those cuts are serious, they aren't mortal wounds: you can still enjoy this collection despite them, especially if in blissful ignorance of what's missing.