Our Woman
in Space

If everything works as planned, Brazil will be sending its first astronaut into space in a combined effort with NASA by the year 2002. First in line to represent the country up there is Thais Russomano, 33, a Gaúcha (from Rio Grande do Sul) doctor who has been dreaming about traveling into space since she was seven. "Since childhood," she revealed, "I used to look at the sky with curiosity. I would spend hours at the window watching the stars." At 11, Russomano had created and was the President of the Children's Club for Astronomy. At 16, she published a book called Três Crianças Falam de Astronomia (Three Children Talk About Astronomy).

In 1992, in an exposé of her work for children, she wrote O ABC da Vida no Espaço (The ABC of Life in Space). The space fanatic has become the only Brazilian woman with a master's degree in Aerospace Medicine, a program completed at the Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. Right now she is finishing her thesis on Space Physiology at the King's College in London. She has also been serious about her physical conditioning, taking long daily walks and swimming two to three times a week. When talking about her favorite subject and her dreams she usually ends the conversation with "Please, keep your fingers crossed."

Movie Sound

In Tieta do Agreste (Tieta from the Backlands), actress Sônia Braga plays a rich widow who comes back to her hometown in Bahia years after having been banished from there as a young girl. The savory soundtrack of the movie, which was authored by Caetano Veloso, has made it to the U.S. in the just-released Tieta do Agreste. The album features vocals by Veloso, Gal Costa, Zezé Motta, and the female percussion band Didá Banda Feminina. This is the work of Blue Jackel Entertainment, an independent world-music and jazz label that has previously released Brasil: A Century of Song (1995) and O Quatrilho (1996), the soundtrack for the motion picture of the same name. Tieta do Agreste, the film, will be released in the United States in January 1998.

A Samba for Jô

First-time novelist and long-time comedian and TV host Jô Soares has made it to the U.S. His novel Xangô de Baker Street, translated as A Samba for Sherlock (see an excerpt of the book on our black pages), has just been released by Pantheon Books.. The first printing of the book in the United States was 35,000 copies, and Hollywood has already bought the rights to film the work. A Samba for Sherlock is set in Rio at the end of the last century. In it, the famous British private eye is summoned to Brazil to help solve the mystery surrounding the theft of a violin given by Emperor Dom Pedro II to one of his mistresses.

Soares had an autograph night in early November at the Chelsea branch of Barnes & Noble Books in New York. Of the 40 or so people who showed up, most were Brazilians, which didn't stop the writer from joking around in English: "Excuse me for my poor English. The other day I went into a drugstore and said I wanted to talk to a drug dealer."

Gruffy Town

Brazilian music producer and journalist Nelson Motta, who moved to New York six year ago, has just released a compilation of his observations of Manhattan. It is Nova York É Aqui (New York Is Here), a different kind of tourist guide, which is not a list of tourist attractions, but a selection of places and things to do passed through the filter of the soft-talking and life chronicler Motta. Some of his advice: "Avoid at all cost, even if you need to use force, going to Planet Hollywood, Hard Rock Café, Motown Café, All Stars Café and Mambo Kings Café: the so-called theme restaurants, whatever the theme or food, are a must not. They are the American hillbillies' favorites." Nova York É Aqui is also a journal of Motta's musings about New Yorkers' idiosyncrasies, including their infamous rudeness.