The Devastation of Silence
by Open Letter
The nights were terrible, during the day we were occupied, but at night we got to thinking, picturing food, our houses, food again, painful memories from our childhoods—that abominable era—would mix with images of food and our torture would grow and grow, I recalled my impotence before the plate I was ordered to clean, the impossibility of choice in a world into which I had been thrust unwillingly, war was indeed an extension of the torture of being born . . .
Set during the difficult era of the Great War, The Devastation of Silence is the story of a captain in the Portuguese Expeditionary Corps who, with no documents showing his rank, finds himself in a German prison camp forced to share the circumstances of his poorer countrymen. He is hungry, constantly plagued by the sound of incessant detonations—and trying to finish his oral account of a strange story about a German scientist and voice recordings. In all this, he must seek meaning in his observations, his dreams, and, above all, silence.
Translated from the Portuguese by Adrian Minckley
About the Author:
João Reis (1985) is a Portuguese writer and a literary translator of Scandinavian languages (Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, and Icelandic). He studied philosophy and has lived in Portugal, Norway, Sweden, and the UK. Reis's work has been compared to that of Hamsun and Kafka, and represents a literary style unseen in contemporary Portuguese writing. The Devastation of Silence, his third novel, was longlisted for Prémio Oceanos 2019.
About the Translator:
Adrian Minckley has a BA in Social Theory from the Evergreen State College, and an MA in Literary Translation Studies from the University of Rochester. Her forthcoming translations include The Whore by Márcia Barbieri (Sublunary Editions, 2023).
Praise for João Reis:
"The Translator's Bride is a neurotic little gem: fast, fun, frenzied, and feisty."—Jeremy Garber, Powell's Books
"João Reis . . . is a great connoisseur of literary comedy, in a subtle way in which everything is so natural, but simultaneously rude, with the cruel ways in which various characters are depicted, thus creating a blackly comic web that weaves together the world of the book."—Nelson Zagalo, Virtual Illusion
"João Reis’ great success in The Translator’s Bride is to convince his audience that they are reading a work written at modernism’s mid-twentieth-century zenith . . . pulling us out of our own times and holding us in the era of Ulysses and Mrs Dalloway."—West Camel, European Literature Network