“Sevastopol”
by Emilio Fraia
from the December 16, 2019 issue of The New Yorker

Emilio Fraia is a Brazilian writer who was on Granta magazine’s 2012 list, “The Best of Young Brazilian Novelists” (see here). I was reading and writing about those stories for a bit in 2012 and 2013 before I apparently stopped . . . right before Fraia’s story, “A Temporary Stay.” While I think I read it, I’m not sure. I’m coming to this story with no sense of Fraia’s other work.

He has one novel, O verão de Chibo (2008), and one graphic novel, Campo em Branco (2013), to his name (though I don’t think either have been translated into English) and a 2018 collection of three stories, Sebastopol, from which “Sevastopol” is taken. This collection is slated to be published by New Directions in 2021.

I’m intrigued by this collection of stories (and, therefore, by “Sevastopol”) because Fraia suggests he took his inspiration, in part, from Tolstoy’s collection of three stories called Sevastopol Sketches. Fraia, for his part, doesn’t necessarily set this story in Sevastopol; rather, we are in São Paulo amongst the less well-to-do theatre people, who “will flatter you to your face and stick a knife in your back, that’s a fact.” Our narrator is a woman named Nadia, and she has met a director she “got a good vibe from.” This is Klaus, a rather eccentric individual. When the story begins, Nadia shares a story she’s written, one about a woman named Nadia. “I asked Klaus whether he thought it might work onstage. He said that it was a lousy story and clearly nothing about it worked.”

The next sentence is also the beginning of a new section: “I think Klaus took a shine to me.”

I think this is developing into an interesting story, and I’m anxious to get deeper! Please let me know your thoughts!

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