Zélia Gattai

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Zélia Gattai Amado de Faria (July 2, 1916 – May 17, 2008) was a Brazilian photographer, memoirist, novelist and author of children's literature, as well as a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters. She was married to internationally famous writer Jorge Amado from 1945 until his death in 2001.

Gattai was born in São Paulo city, state of São Paulo, on July 2, 1916, to a family of Italian immigrants. Gattai's father, Ernesto Gattai, was an anarchist and came from the region of Veneto, following the social anarchist experiment called Colônia Cecília. Her mother, Angelina Da Col, was a Catholic. After the failure of Colônia Cecília, the Gattais moved to São Paulo, where Ernesto Gattai worked as a chauffeur for wealthy families and later as a car mechanic.

In the 1930s, Zélia Gattai entered the intellectual and social circles of the modernists of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, becoming a friend of personalities such as Oswald de Andrade, Lasar Segall, Tarsila do Amaral, Mário de Andrade, Rubem Braga, Zora Seljan, Paulo Mendes de Almeida, Carlos Lacerda, Aldo Bonadei, Vinícius de Moraes and others. As a result of the anti-Communist measures by dictator Getúlio Vargas in the late 1930s, Gattai was forced to go into exile with her husband, who was a Communist, soon after her marriage in 1945. She used the opportunity to get a degree in Literature at the Sorbonne, in 1949.

Upon returning to Brazil, she and Amado settled in Salvador, in the state of Bahia, where Amado was born, and raised a family.

Gattai began her literary career in 1979 with an autobiography about her early life, titled Anarquistas, Graças a Deus ("Anarchists, Thanks to God") which became a bestseller when it was dramatized as a miniseries by the Globo Television Network, capturing a huge audience. She later wrote eight further sequels to her autobiography, telling her love story with Jorge Amado (A Hat for a Voyage, The Lady of the Ball, Winter Garden, A Boys' Ground, The House of Rio Vermelho, Cittá di Roma, Family Codes and Jorge Amado, a Romantic and Sensuous Baiano). She also wrote three successful books for children and a novel. On the death of Amado, Gattai was elected to the vacant 23rd seat in the Brazilian Academy of Letters.[1]

Gattai died at 16:30, in Salvador, Brazil, aged 91. She was in hospital for 31 days, recovering from surgery.[2]


  • Anarquistas graças a Deus - 1979 (memoirs)
  • Um chapéu para viagem - 1982 (memoirs)
  • Senhora dona do baile - 1984 (memoirs)
  • Reportagem incompleta - 1987 (photobiography)
  • Jardim de inverno - 1988 (memoirs)
  • Pipistrelo das mil cores - 1989 (children's fiction)
  • O segredo da rua 18 - 1991 (children's fiction)
  • Chão de meninos - 1992 (memoirs)
  • Crônica de uma namorada - 1995 (novel)
  • A casa do Rio Vermelho - 1999 (memoirs)
  • Cittá di Roma - 2000 (memoirs)
  • Jonas e a sereia - 2000 (children's fiction)
  • Códigos de família - 2001 (memoirs)
  • Jorge Amado um baiano sensual e romântico - 2002 (memoirs)
  • Vacina de Sapo e outras lembranças - 2005 (memoirs)


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