Moacyr Scliar

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Moacyr Scliar
Moacir Scliar.jpg
Born Moacyr Jaime Scliar
March 23, 1937
Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul
Died February 27, 2011(2011-02-27) (aged 73)
Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul
Occupation Writer, physician
Notable work Max and the Cats

Moacyr Jaime Scliar (March 23, 1937 – February 27, 2011) was a Brazilian writer and physician. Most of his writing centers on issues of Jewish identity in the Diaspora and particularly on being Jewish in Brazil.

Scliar is best known outside Brazil for his 1981 novel Max and the Cats (Max e os Felinos), the story of a young German[1] man who flees Berlin after he comes to the attention of the Nazis for having had an affair with a married woman. Making his way to Brazil, his ship sinks, and he finds himself alone in a dinghy with a jaguar who had been travelling in the hold.[2]


Scliar was born in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, into a Jewish family that immigrated to Brazil from Bessarabia in 1919. He graduated in medicine in 1962, majoring in public health. He first worked at the Jewish Hospital for the Elderly in Porto Alegre, and later worked in the public health field in tuberculosis prevention and treatment.[1]


A prolific writer, Scliar published over 100 books in Portuguese, covering various literary genres: short stories; novels; young adult fiction; children's books; and essays.

In 1962, his first book Stories of a Doctor in Training was published, although later on he regretted having published it so young. His second book The Carnival of the Animals was published in 1968.

In a recent autobiographical piece, Scliar discusses his membership of the Jewish, medical, Gaucho, and Brazilian tribes. His novel The Centaur in the Garden was included among the 100 Greatest Works of Modern Jewish Literature by The National Yiddish Book Center. In an interview with Judith Bolton-Fasman published in The Jewish Reader, August 2003, Scliar commented on his use of the centaur as a metaphor: "The centaur is a symbol of the double identity, characteristic of Jews in a country like Brazil. At home, you speak Yiddish, eat gefilte fish, and celebrate Shabbat. But in the streets, you have soccer, samba, and Portuguese. After a while you feel like a centaur."


Scliar's fiction has been translated into English, Dutch, French, Swedish, German, Spanish, Italian, Hebrew, Czech, Serbian and Danish. His translated fiction is listed in the UNESCO international bibliography of translations Index Translationum: Scliar, Moacyr

Awards and Recognitions[edit]

Works in English[edit]


  • The Centaur in the Garden, Translator: Margaret A. Neves
  • The Gods of Raquel, Translator: Eloah F. Giacomelli
  • The One-Man Army, Translator: Eloah F. Giacomelli
  • The Carnival of the Animals, Translator: Eloah F. Giacomelli
  • The Ballad of the False Messiah, Translator: Eloah F. Giacomelli
  • The Strange Nation of Rafael Mendes, Translator: Eloah F. Giacomelli
  • The Volunteers, Translator: Eloah F. Giacomelli
  • The Enigmatic Eye, Translator: Eloah F. Giacomelli
  • Max and the Cats , Translator: Eloah F. Giacomelli
  • The Collected Stories of Moacyr Scliar, Translator: Eloah F. Giacomelli
  • The War in Bom Fim, Translator: David William Foster
  • Kafka's Leopards, Translator Thomas O. Beebee

Short Stories in Anthologies[edit]

Works in Portuguese[edit]


Short stories[edit]

  • O carnaval dos animais. Porto Alegre, Movimento, 1968
  • A balada do falso Messias. São Paulo, Ática, 1976
  • Histórias da terra trêmula. São Paulo, Escrita, 1976
  • O anão no televisor. Porto Alegre, Globo, 1979
  • Os melhores contos de Moacyr Scliar. São Paulo, Global, 1984
  • Dez contos escolhidos. Brasília, Horizonte, 1984
  • O olho enigmático. Rio, Guanabara, 1986
  • Contos reunidos. São Paulo, Companhia das Letras, 1995
  • O amante da Madonna. Porto Alegre, Mercado Aberto, 1997
  • Os contistas. Rio, Ediouro, 1997
  • Histórias para (quase) todos os gostos. Porto Alegre, L&PM, 1998
  • Pai e filho, filho e pai. Porto Alegre, L&PM, 2002
  • [[1]] (). Rio de Janeiro, Agir, 2009.


Children and Youth Fiction[edit]


  • A massagista japonesa. Porto Alegre, L&PM, 1984
  • Um país chamado infância. Porto Alegre, Sulina, 1989
  • Dicionário do viajante insólito. Porto Alegre, L&PM, 1995
  • Minha mãe não dorme enquanto eu não chegar. Porto Alegre, L&PM, 1996. Artes e Ofícios, 2001
  • O imaginário cotidiano. São Paulo, Global, 2001
  • A língua de três pontas: crônicas e citações sobre a arte de falar mal. Porto Alegre


  • A condição judaica. Porto Alegre, L&PM, 1987
  • Do mágico ao social: a trajetória da saúde pública. Porto Alegre, L&PM, 1987; SP, Senac, 2002
  • Cenas médicas. Porto Alegre, Editora da Ufrgs, 1988. Artes&Ofícios, 2002
  • Enígmas da culpa. São Paulo, Objetiva, 2007

External links to reviews and articles[edit]

  • YUPPIES WITH FETLOCKS, review by Jean Franco, New York Times, June 30, 1985 The Centaur in the Garden
  • THE CENTAUR IN THE GARDEN, review by Judith Bolton-Fasman, The Jewish Reader, August 2003 Centaur in the Garden
  • JONAH WAS CLAUSTROPHOBIC, review by Herbert Gold, New York Times, January 31, 1988 The Strange Nation of Rafael Mendes
  • MAIMONIDES IN BRAZIL, review by Mark R. Day, Los Angeles Times, January 24, 1988 Rafael Mendes
  • THE BRAZILIANIZATION OF THE YIIDDISHKEIT TRADITION, article by Robert DiAntonio, Latin America Literary Review, Vol. 17, No. 34 (Jul. - Dec. 1989), pp. 40–51 Yiddishkeit Tradition
  • RESONANCES OF THE YIDDISHKEIT TRADITION IN THE CONTEMPORARY BRAZILIAN NARRATIVE, by Robert DiAntonio, in Tradition and Innovation: Reflections on Latin American Jewish Writing, State University of New York Press, 1993 An Analysis of Scliar's Fiction
  • MOACYR SCLIAR: SOCIAL DIFFERENCES AND THE TYRANNY OF CULTURE, an analysis of Scliar's fiction by Nelson H. Vieira, in Jewish Voices in Brazilian Literature: A Prophetic Discourse of Alterity, University Press of Florida, 1996 Social Differences and the Tyranny of Culture
  • WLT INTERVIEW WITH MOACYR SCLIAR, article by Luciana Camargo Namorato, World Literature Today, May 1, 2006 Interview with Scliar
  • MOACYR SCLIAR, article by Ilan Stavans, Jewish Writers of the 20th Century Moacyr Scliar
  • ORACULAR JEWISH TRADITION IN TWO WORKS BY MOACYR SCLIAR, article by Naomi Lindstrom, Luso-Brazilian Review, Vol. 21, No. 2 (Winter, 1984, University of Wisconsin Press) Two Works by Scliar
  • THE ENIGMATIC EYE, review by Robert DiAntonio, The International Fiction Review, Vol. 17, No. 1 (1990) Enigmatic Eye
  • IN BATTLE WITH THE TERRIFYING BEAST OF MAGICAL REALISM, article by Dolores Flaherty, Roger Flaherty, Chicago Sun-Times, August 5, 1990 Magical Realism
  • FACING ONE'S INNER FELINES, review by Linda Morra, Canadian Literature #183 (Winter 2004), Writers Talking, pp. 166–167 Max and the Cats
  • MOACYR SCLIAR, BRAZILIAN NOVELIST, DIES AT 73, a review article by William Grimes, BOOK section, The New York Times, March 5, 2011 Moacyr Scliar, Brazilian Novelist
  • MOACYR SCLIAR, A BRAZILIAN PUBLIC HEALTH LEADER, obituary by Barbara Fraser, "The Lancet", May 21, 2011


  1. ^ a b Levin, Janet (October 2012). "Moacyr Scliar". Jewish Renaissance. 12 (1): 19. 
  2. ^ Mitgang, Herbert. "Books of The Times; Fleeing the Nazis With a Jaguar That May Be Real", The New York Times, July 11, 1990.
  3. ^ Folha Online (31 May 2009). "Prêmio São Paulo de Literatura divulga finalistas". Folha de S.Paulo. Retrieved 6 April 2013. 
  4. ^ ASSESSORIA DE IMPRENSA SEC (2 August 2010). "Prêmio São Paulo de Literatura 2010". Governo do Estado de São Paulo: Secretaria da Cultura. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 


  • Florina Florescu, "Of Genes, Mutations, and Desires in Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis and Moacyr Scliar’s The Centaur in the Garden Catalina," in Elizabeth Klaver (ed), The Body in Medical Culture (Albany (NY), SUNY Press, 2010),