“TGIF” by Geovani Martins

Set in Brazil, “TGIF” is a story of a boy who, from a young age (or at least since he began smoking), has been toughened by the streets and by labor. Seeking to unwind after a long week’s work, the boy just cannot get a break from reality. He has to deal with a society with a large gap between the rich and the poor, the systemic corruption in the government, and the rage inside himself. Life is hard. To actually have a nice, enjoyable weekend to look forward to, seems to be a privilege as well.

The story is part of Geovani Martins’ short story collection, The Sun on My Head, which was recently published in English. While pretty much the whole story is in English, I appreciated the retention of some Portuguese words in the text. Although I had to look up the English definitions, I felt that this kept the story in character and showcased a part of Brazilian culture and values. Also, I felt like this contributed to the main character’s strong voice even if the text was translated from its original language. (That said, Julia Sanches did an amazing job translating this work.)

Pick up this collection The Sun on My Head if you are curious about favela life in Brazil. “TGIF” reminded me a bit of some stories in Bryan Washington’s Lot—class struggle is real. (Here’s the Short Bites entry for “Navigation.”) I also enjoyed reading “The Mystery of the Vila,” which tackled a different part of Brazilian culture and which I found to be heartwarming.

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