5 thoughts from Carolina Maria de Jesus – Estante Virtual Blog

Carolina Maria de Jesus would have been 109 on Tuesday (14). Get to know the author’s biography, books and some thoughts!

The first writings of Carolina Maria de Jesus were born with the power of social denunciation.⁣ She began to write her daily life in diaries: stories that shed light on the context of extreme poverty in the favela and the hard life which she has led since childhood.

With the writing of a diary, Carolina began to analyze and investigate her own existence in its social dimension. Besides memoirs, the author wrote short stories, chronicles, poems and would have left two unpublished novels. She is the author of “⁣Quarto de Despejo”, “Casa de Masonaria”, “Pedaços de Fome”, among others.

Published in more than 40 countries and translated into 15 languages, the work of the Brazilian author has been (re)visited by readers and researchers of different nationalities. ⁣

In 2021, Carolina received, in a posthumous tribute, the title of doctor honoris causa from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). Important recognition⁣ given to an eminent personality, national or foreign, who has distinguished himself in a unique way by his contribution to culture, education or humanity.


Carolina Maria de Jesus was born on March 14, 1914 in Minas Gerais. Granddaughter of slaves and daughter of an illiterate laundress, Carolina only attended school until the second year of primary school. In 1930, accompanied by her family, she moved to São Paulo, where she worked as a agricultural and domestic worker.

In 1948, he moved to the Canindé favela. In the following years, she was the mother of three children. At the time, she worked as a paper collector and loved to read. Carolina read everything she could find: books, newspapers and magazines.

In 1958, she met the journalist Audálio Dantas, who helped her publish her diaries. Some texts were published in the newspaper “Folha da Noite” and others collected in his first book “Quarto de despejo” (1960).⁣ Carolina died in 1977, at the age of 62, victim of a respiratory failure.

Carolina Maria de Jesus, Audálio Dantas and Ruth de Souza in the Favela do Canindé. Sao Paulo, 1961.File/IMS

About the book and the writing: 5 reflections by Carolina Maria de Jesus in “Quarto de despejo”

I write about the misery and the unhappy life of the favelados.

Caroline Mary of Jesus

I can’t sleep without reading. I like to manipulate a book. The book is the best invention of man

Caroline Mary of Jesus

Everyone has an ideal. Mine is to like to read.

Caroline Mary of Jesus

A cobbler asked me if my book was communist. I replied that it was realistic. He told me that it is not advisable to write about reality.

Caroline Mary of Jesus

I need to work and I write in my spare time.

Caroline Mary of Jesus

Works by Carolina Maria de Jesus

The diary of Carolina Maria de Jesus gave birth to this book, which recounts the sad and cruel daily life of the favela. The simple but direct language touches the reader with its realism and sensitive gaze when it comes to recounting what he saw, lived and felt during the years he lived in the community of Canindé, in São Paulo, with three children.

Fully edited, enriched with new content and remade from the author’s original manuscripts, this first volume of A brick house covers the months that Carolina Maria de Jesus lived in Osasco (SP), in 1960, after leaving the Canindé favela. Through this precious testimony which blurs the boundaries of literary genres, we follow the reception of eviction roompublicity trips, frequent contacts with the press and politicians, the development of her literary project and her desire to be recognized as a writer

This second volume of Casa de Alvenaria includes diaries dating back to December 1963, with content that has been unpublished or out of circulation for decades. Through these discs, we follow Carolina’s new life, the movements in her house, the trips and, above all, the difficulty of crossing the barriers of racism and stigmatization to be recognized as a writer.

Have you ever read a book by Carolina Maria de Jesus?

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