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Vista Chinesa

It‘s 2014. Brazil and especially the city of Rio de Janeiro are euphoric. The Fifa World Cup is about to start, the 2016 Olympics are in sight. Construction is booming and real estate values are high. There is the feeling that Brazil has found a new path. A time of hope.

Júlia is a partner in an architecture firm in charge of some projects for the Rio Olympics. On the day of a meeting at City Hall, Júlia goes running. Since her teenage years she is obsessed with having a „perfect body“, thin and healthy thanks to diet and exercise. But along the way, someone holds a gun to her head and takes her to an isolated area. Júlia thinks that she would be killed as soon as the aggressor finished his deed. But she survives.

The physical description of the rape is treated delicately. The story focuses on Júlia and her attempts to communicate and rationalize the disgust she feels over having been raped. The rosary of pain, the overwhelming feelings of filthiness and guilt so common among victims of sexual violence, is described with great narrative skill. So are the successive trips to the police to identify suspects. And the sloppy and sometimes rude policeman, with little concern for the welfare of this citizen. Not everything is horror and darkness, however. The story is told to the protagonist‘s children, a girl and a boy, years after the terrible episode and in a Brazil already stripped of its party clothes. A „message in a bottle“ format, as the protagonist one day feels an urgent need to tell her children about the violation of the body which they came from.

Vista Chinesa is an impacting novel based on a true episode of sexual violence experienced by a friend of the author. The real-life rape during a run in the area known as Vista Chinesa, a lush Atlantic Forest in the middle of the metropolis. The identity of the friend and further details are addressed in a note at the end of the text. Vista Chinesa is the story of a woman and a city raped.

Translated by Alison Entrekin

Published by Scribe Publications in 2023

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