Maria José Silveira is a writer and translator, graduated in Communication and Anthropology, with a Master’s Degree in Political Science. For several years, she worked as an editor and publisher.
Since the huge success of her first novel, A Mãe da Mãe de sua Mãe e suas Filhas (Her Mother’s Mother’s Mother and Her Daughters), published in Brazil (Globo), USA (Open Letter Books),Italy (Mondadori), France (Denoël) and Taiwan (Homewards), she dedicates herself exclusively to writing and has a vast work of awarded adult, children and YA books, many of them adopted by government programs. She has also written three plays, all staged. Born in Goiania, she currently lives in São Paulo, Brazil.
THE WATER HUNTER (O FAREJADOR DE ÁGUAS)
In the 1920’s, Minino, an orphan boy raised by an indigenous woman, decides to leave the land he inherited from his parents in Goiás and join the Prestes Column, a military and populist historical movement that traveled across Brazil from South to North, comparable to the Long March of Mao Zedong in China. Thanks to his courage, intelligence, and ability to “sniff out” sources of fresh water, he quickly becomes relevant in his batallion and moves to the front of the march, also searching for hidden gunmen (“jagunços”) waiting in ambush among the surrounding vegetation. It is during these journeys that Minino develops the will to fight for what he believes, as well as his love for nature and for Maria Branca, who becomes his lifelong companion. When the march of the Prestes Column comes to an end, he decides to return to his small property, but that doesn’t deter him from pursuing his ideals.
A family saga through the heart of Brazil that spans nearly 100 years, THE WATER HUNTER follows the life trajectory of a family of farm laborers and reminds us that nature and humanity are one and the same. Focusing in the deforestation and extinction of the Cerrado, one of Brazil’s largest biomes, and on its consequences for the fresh water sources of this country which is the most abundant in fresh water, Maria José Silveira once again denounces the exploitation of nature with sensitivity and narrative power through a plot filled with captivating characters, both real and fictional, that addresses many relevant issues of our time, including indigenous matters, land rights, and environmental devastation.
Publication/Status: Published by Instante (Brazil) in June 2023 to great acclaim. [256 pages]
ONCE UPON A TIME IN THIS PLACE [AQUI NESTE LUGAR]
In a mythical and timeless Brazil, before the arrival of the Portuguese, against a backdrop of forests, wild rivers, waterfalls, seas and mountains, there were a people who lived in a Land Without Evil, where life was good, food was abundant, there were freedom, joy, love and no diseases. Some prehistoric topographic accidents separated this territory from the big land, where Brazil would be today, inhabited by other peoples and tribes. Those folks who lived in the Land Without Evil were known as The First People, the heirs of the secret of this idyllic and desired place, which is the central conflict of the narrative. The First People are peaceful and know from their hearts that The Land Without Evil can only be found when one doesn’t look for it. The others do not get it and are sure there is a hidden map that can take them to the heart of this paradise where they could live forever. The Horsewomen protect The First People and are their allies. They live in a different territory, where they formed a strong army composed only by women. They have men as sex slavers so they can get pregnant and, when a baby boy is born, it is thrown away in a crag. The Horsewomen are soldiers and are always on war. But they aren’t mercenaries; they fight for their values, the most important being the protection of Nature. When battling, they count on the mythical creatures of the forest, like M’boitatá, the legendary fire snake that upturns the waters and provoke deadly tsunamis.
The People from Eldorado are the main threat to The First People’s lives. They live in a dry land where there is plenty of gold and nothing else — no food, no water — and their greatest wish is to take over the Land Without Evil.
The novel develops around the attack the People From Eldorado plan to perform against The First People in order to find out which is the secret to the Land Without Evil. They hire the Colorless Men, a mercenary army, to help them. But the fight against the Horsewomen gets way more difficult than they would ever imagine, and their plans are drowned by the force of those women allied to the Nature itself.
Publication/Status: Published by Autêntica (Brazil) in June 2022. [220 pages]
A journey through Latin America and the Backlands of Brazil, this novel starts in 1970, when an avalanche buries a small village in the Peruvian Andes, and ends nowadays in Altamira, Pará, right after the inauguration of infamous Belo Monte’s Hydroelectric Power Plant. Two catastrophes, one caused by nature, the other by humans. The first affects the mother; the second, the daughter. Both of them indigenous people, a Quéchua and a Juruna (Peruvian and Brazilian Indians). Through the lives of two dramatic, amazingly strong, female protagonists and the characters around them who suffer from the destruction of their ways of living, Maria Altamira deals with some very important and up to date themes: the disrespect towards the environment and the indigenous populations; the search for Father and Mother; the strength of our roots; luck and fate; what is good and evil; love. It’s a two women saga, a truly epic narrative.
Maria Altamira was a finalist to the prestigious Oceanos Prize. Over 50.000 copies sold in Brazil.
Publication/Status: Published by Instante (Brazil) in March 2020. [272 pages]
“Maria Altamira is fiction that sounds more real than reality; it’s a document written by someone with field
experience and a sharp and subtle observation power, a timely novel against the dark times we’re going
through.” – Betty Mindlin (Anthropologist, author of Fricassé de Maris, published by Record in Brazil and Métailié in France)