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Carolina Maria de Jesus
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Author
    (March 14, 1914-February 13, 1977)
    Born in Minas Gerais, Brazil
    Brazilian peasant woman
    Spent most of her life in a the slums of Sao Paulo
    Best known for her diary, 'Quarto de Despejo' (The Garbage Place), published in August 1960
    Diary entries were discovered by journalist Augustino Dantas in April, 1958
    Small samples were initially published as newspaper stories, attracting a huge following of readers
    Diary subsequently became the most successful book in Brazilian publishing history, translated into 13 languages
    Published in the United States and the United Kingdom as 'Child of the Dark: The Diary of Carolina Maria de Jesus,' in 1962
    She was dubbed 'the Black Cinderella.'
    Her diary was made public while she was still alive.
    Her later works fared poorly on the market.
    She had a reputation for being haughty, ill-tempered, and pretentious.
    She angered many in her favela who claimed she characterized them unfairly.
    She remains a cultural icon in Brazil, but is now barely known outside of Latin America.
    She was accused of reinforcing negative stereotypes of blacks in her books.
    She was accused of staging photo ops to make herself appear impoverished in later years.
    Arguments have surfaced that sections of her diary were ghost-written by Augustino Dantas.
    She bragged, after her success, about having a white maid whom she claimed was embarrassed to work for a black woman, even a famous one.
    She self-published an unoriginal compilation of witty sayings with such thought provoking anecdotes as 'only the strong know how to overcome the vicissitudes of life.'
    For all the celebrity her book garnered, she still died in poverty.
    She was ostracized by her community for being born illegitimate.
    She started out writing by scouring the garbage for paper with which to write her diary.
    Her diary documents the hunger she and her family faced during their years in the favela, in graphic detail.
    She was stabbed while defending her son from an attacker while living in the favela.
    The toll of poverty-stricken life in the favela was bad enough to make her look twenty years older than her actual age.
    She aggravated her neighbors not only by being literate and prolific, but also celebrating her African roots openly.
    Her book was a searing indictment of Brazilian society's economic caste system, and was the first of its kind written by an actual slum-dweller.
    Her later works may have fared worse due to the restrictions brought on after the Brazilian Junta of 1969.
    She was openly and harshly critical of Brazilian politicians who sought photo ops with her (that didn't make her many friends either).
    What many interpreted to be arrogance is now believed to have been confusion at being the center of attention after years of being treated like nothing.
    She and her children were brutally assaulted, as they were moving out of their favela house, by irate neighbors who literally chased their truck for close to a mile before giving up.
    Studies of her original manuscripts not only disproved the notion that she was a fraud, but also proved that she was more lyrical than Dantas, who heavily edited the final published version (1999).

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair


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