Quiet Creature on the Corner by João Gilberto Noll

Quiet Creature on the Corner by João Gilberto Noll

“Without a doubt, João Gilberto Noll holds a special place in the pantheon of contemporary Brazilian authors.” — Amálgama

“Meeting the unforgettable narrator of Quiet Creature on the Corner felt like finding that the narrator of Camus’s The Stranger had suddenly learned new and darker lessons in desire. Noll’s is a captivating voice.” — Matt Bell, author of Scrapper

“A wonderfully dislocated read, Quiet Creature on the Corner shimmers through the consciousness of a wounded, and wounding, man who experiences the sharpest impacts of himself with the world and is able to hang on to very little else, including the passage of time. It’s like what might have happened if Werner Herzog had written a hypnotized sequel to Peter Handke’s The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick.” — Brian Evenson, author of Fugue State and A Collapse of Horses

“Noll’s literature doesn’t seek to impart a lesson or demonstrate anything. Above all, it shows the poetry in the fact that no one individual is a permanence but rather many simultaneous things.” — Sergio Chejfec, author of My Two Worlds

“Without any plan, motivated only by curiosity and the compulsion to keep writing. This is how . . . João Gilberto Noll gives life to his books, always curious to find out how a solution might emerge.” — O Globo

A Literary Hub and Vol. 1 Brooklyn Recommended “Book to Read in May”

“As much as the novel deserves its comparisons with the work of some of the modernist giants, Quiet Creature on the Corner . . . shows Noll blazing past them into his own territory with a story for a different age.” — Cultured Vultures

“A spare and modestly surreal tale of a young man who surrenders himself to a life that is inexplicably handed to him. . . . Newly released from Two Lines Press, in a measured, wonderfully restrained translation by Adam Morris, this novel offers an English language audience an absorbing introduction to this esteemed Brazilian author.” — Numéro Cinq

“As urgently relevant as any contemporary novel. . . . Quiet Creature on the Corner augurs a notable English-language career for João Gilberto Noll.” — Chicago Review of Books

“Readers will be delighted that his 1991 mid-career work has now been translated into English.” — Publishers Weekly

Someone knocked on the door, and I went to open it, already knowing who it was: the eldest son of the neighbor lady, a crazy kid that had this obsession with coming to ask me for a nail; for the hundredth time I said I didn’t have any more, but, like always, he needed to nail something—this time it was for nailing a beam, yes, nailing a beam in the ceiling above his mattress. He was almost shouting, banging, banging, banging, until he bled. I looked up because that was the direction he pointed so vehemently, I looked and saw the split ceilings in the corridor: I just need to borrow one nail, the kid was repeating, one loaned nail, that’s all. . . . Read an excerpt from Quiet Creature on the Corner


Ranked alongside leading Latin American writers like César Aira and Mario Bellatín—and deeply influenced by Clarice Lispector—João Gilberto Noll is esteemed as one of Brazil’s living legends.

Quiet Creature on the Corner marks Noll’s English-language debut. An unemployed poet finds himself thrown in jail after inexplicably raping his neighbor, but his time in the slammer is mysteriously cut short when he’s abruptly taken to a new home—a countryside manor where his every need seen to. All that’s required of him is to . . . write poetry. Just who are his captors, Kurt and Otávio? What of the alluring maid, Amália, and her charge, a woman with cancer named Gerda? And, most alarmingly of all, why does Kurt suddenly appear to be aging so much faster than he should?

Reminiscent of the films of David Lynch, and written in Noll’s distinctive postmodern style—a strange world of surfaces seemingly without rational cause and effect—Quiet Creature on the Corner is a bizarre existential mystery with deep implications. Written during Brazil’s transition from military dictatorship to democracy—and capturing the disjointed feel of that rapidly changing world—Quiet Creature is mysterious and abrupt, pivoting on choices that feel both arbitrary and inevitable. Like Kazuo Ishiguro, Noll takes us deep into the mind of person who’s always missing a few crucial pieces of information. Is he moving toward an answer, or is he just as lost as ever?

João Gilberto Noll is the author of nearly 20 books. His work has appeared in Brazil’s leading periodicals, and he has been a guest of the Rockefeller Foundation, King’s College London, and the University of California at Berkeley, as well as a Guggenheim Fellow. A five-time recipient of the Prêmio Jabuti, and the recipient of over 10 awards in all, he lives in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Adam Morris has a Ph.D. in Latin American literature from Stanford University and is the recipient of the 2012 Susan Sontag Foundation Prize in literary translation. He is the translator of Hilda Hilst’s With My Dog-Eyes (Melville House Books, 2014). His writing and translations have been published widely, including in BOMB magazine, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and many others. He lives in San Francisco.