Smiling in the Darkness by (Adelaide Freitas 1949- 2018, Sorriso por dentro da Noite), published by Tagus UMASS Press, is a beautifully-written, lyrical story of an Azorean family’s journey of immigration to North America.
Through Xana, the 12-year-old girl protagonist in the story, Adelaide Freitas gives us a heartbreaking account of what it means for a child to experience the fracture of family ties. One of the strongest themes in the novel is the idea that you can’t ever really go back and recapture the past and that the present is not always a better place. The damage has been done.
I relate to Xana because when I was her age, I also experienced being taken from one culture to another, losing beloved family members through immigration, and the ultimate realization that something deep within the soul gets damaged or changed forever. At the end of the novel, Xana tries desperately to hold on to her world just as it is about to change forever. It’s a profound moment in the novel that resonates deeply with my own leaving the old world for the new.
There is much more that I could say about this novel but the story is one that should be discovered by reading it.
You can also read Katharine F. Baker’s translation notes here.
I owe a great deal of gratitude to Katharine F. Baker for inviting me to contribute to her translation of this important book of diasporic relevance. I am also grateful to Tagus Press for selecting one of my photographs for the book cover.
Freitas, Adelaide Batista. Smiling in the Darkness. Novel trans. Katharine F. Baker, Bobby J. Chamberlain, PhD., Reinaldo F. Silva, PhD., and Emanuel Melo. N. Dartmouth, MA.: Tagus Press, Mar 2020.
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