The Words That Remain

Winner, National Book Awards 2023 for Translated Literature

ISBN 9781954404120
New Vessel Press
Author photo of Stenio Gardel. (Photo credit: New Vessel Press)
Stênio Gardel

Stênio Gardel was born in 1980 in the rural northeast of Brazil. The Words That Remain is his first novel. More about this author >

Author photo of Bruna Dantas Lobato (Photo credit: New Vessel Press)
Bruna Dantas Lobato

Bruna Dantas Lobato is a Brazilian writer and literary translator who lives in St. Louis. More about this author >

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Translated from the Portuguese

From the publisher:

A letter has beckoned to Raimundo since he received it decades ago from his youthful passion, handsome Cicero. But having grown up in an impoverished area of Brazil where the demands of manual labor thwarted his becoming literate, Raimundo has long been unable to read. As young men, he and Cicero fell in love, only to have Raimundo’s father brutally beat his son when he discovered their affair. Even after Raimundo succeeds in making a life for himself in the big city, he continues to be haunted by this secret missive full of longing from the distant past. Now, as an elderly man, he at last acquires a true education and the ability to access the letter. Exploring Brazil’s little-known hinterland as well its urban haunts, this is a sweeping novel of repression, violence, and shame, along with their flip side: survival, endurance, and the ultimate triumph of an unforgettable figure on society’s margins. The Words That Remain explores the universal power of the written word and language, and how they affect all our relationships.

Judges Citation

Stênio Gardel’s The Words That Remain is deceptively simple, heartbreakingly honest, and a compelling examination of intimacy in relationships that invites the reader to experience queer desire and survival through new perspectives. Bruna Dantas Lobato’s translation brings the text to life, capturing the yearning for social and personal autonomy through fragmented memories. When love and life fail, Gardel’s novel reminds us how language can be a form of resilience, offering us comfort and a path forward.


Stenio Gardel, Bruna Dantas Lobato accept 2023 Nat Book Award(Trans. Lit). for The Words That Remain

Stênio Gardel and Bruna Dantas Lobato at the 2023 National Book Awards Finalist Reading