Portuguese American Journal

Book |The Devastation of Silence | A novel by João Reis – Editor’s Note

Set during the difficult era of the Great War (1914-1918), 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.


“The evening was brisk, and furthermore, the soldier Almeida had died, they informed us before dinner of his passing. It occurred to me immediately that I had in my possession a letter I had written at his request, a letter Almeida had dictated and asked that I sent to his family, I still hadn’t been able to because I hadn’t even tried. Once dinner was over, I left the dining shed and showed the letter to a guard named Müller, he extended his hand and remained that way, arm outstretched … I offered a cigarette, he didn’t touch it … his nails grew, his fingers elongated … he leaned forward, stretched his splayed open had; he would never accept something so simple as a cigarette, and, at seeing I had had nothing else to offer, closed his fist and turned away.” — Excerpt


About the Author

João Reis 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 [A devastação do silêncio] his third novel, was long listed for Prémio Oceanos 2019. He is the author of The Translator’s Bride (2019) and Bedraggling Grandma with Russian Snow (2021).

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.


Book Details

Title: The Devastation of Silence

Author: João Reis

Translator: Adrian Minckley

Publication Date: November 1, 2022

Publisher: Open Letter, University of Manchester

Language: English

Paperback: 130 pp

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