The Librarian Is In

Courtesy of the Davis Family Library


Literatures and cultures librarian Katrina Spencer is liaison to the Anderson Freeman Center, the Arabic department, the French department, the Gender Sexuality & Feminist Studies (GSFS Program), the Language Schools, Linguistics and the Spanish & Portuguese departments. These affiliations are reflected in her reading choices. “While I am a very slow reader, I’m a very critical reader,” she says.

Pages: 63

The What

This is a collection of cartoons by one of Brazil’s most famous cartoonists, known mononymously as “Laerte.” The lead character of the work is Hugo, a man who, like everyone else, struggles to pay his bills, to please his partner, to accept pre-determined gender norms and, ultimately, to be himself in a society that strictly delineates acceptable behavior and is ever-changing with new technologies to which we must adapt. Hugo is an “average Joe” with a big heart and a healthy dose of consistent confusion. Published in full color, this thin volume will bring joy to lusophiles deciding to thumb its pages.

The Why

When I attended the Portuguese School in 2014, I started studying Laerte with great interest. I learned that the cartoonist is one of the most well recognized transgender people in all of Brazil. As is the case with Caitlyn Jenner, Laerte gained fame and status before transitioning and, as a public figure, ran a great risk in terms of social stigmatization, having chosen to transition publicly. Aside from creating work that is funny and clever that allows me to practice Portuguese, I admire Laerte’s bravery in subverting social norms.

Rating: 3/5 cardigans

“Hugo para principantes” features curious drawings with enigmatic character but has no real plot destination.

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