Fiction – paperback; Penguin Modern Classics; 45 pages; 2015. Translated from the Portuguese by Stefan Tobler.
Brazilian writer Raduan Nassar’s A Cup of Rage was first published in 1978, but this is a new translation by Stefan Tobler, whom may be familiar to some of you from the independent publisher & Other Stories, and it tells the tale, in just seven chapters, of a bitter, almost violent, argument between two lovers — an older unnamed man and a younger woman — after a night of heated passion at the man’s remote farm house, and is written in such a breathless manner (each chapter is composed of one long sentence, meaning there are just seven sentences in total across the 45 pages that make up this classic novella) that I came to the end in about an hour but then felt I needed to reread it to pick up on all the things I hadn’t processed first time round, and yet it’s not a complicated story to follow, it’s actually quite simple and goes something like this: the man and the woman meet at his house for an evening of erotic sex (you have been warned) but their raunchy rendezvous comes to an abrupt end the next morning when the man erupts into a rage over what appears to be a minor issue unrelated to the woman whom he then verbally attacks when he sees her chatting to his maid (or is she laughing at him?), so the woman retaliates, which is a natural reaction, and then the full extent of the man’s latent rage is rained down upon her, but she gives as good as she gets because she can’t let anything go (and why should she?), and then, when things reach a climax, the man’s rage morphs into sexual teasing, which excites the woman, who then discovers the man’s motives aren’t as obvious as she first thought, and by the time the story ends you realise this is a misogynistic tale about power, domination, cruelty and desire, one that leaves a slightly bitter taste in the mouth, but which demonstrates that even the most experimental of fiction can be just as compelling and intriguing and as deeply unsettling as the most conventional of psychological dramas, and I would recommend reading it if you are looking for something challenging and different, but don’t expect to like it — I kind of hated it but admired the style and respected Nassar’s bravura enough to want to read more by him.