The Sun on My Head

Geovani Martins
Translated by Julia Sanches

The bestselling literary sensation from Brazil, The Sun on My Head is a work of great talent and heartbreaking sensitivitya daring evocation of life in the favelas by a rising star firmly rooted in the community he portrays.

Date Published
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The Sun on My Head is a collection of thirteen stories set in Rio’s largest favela, gravitating around the lives of young boys and men who, in spite of having to deal with the anguish and difficulties inherent to their age, also struggle with the violence involved in growing up on the less favoured side of the ‘Broken City’.

They smoke weed, sell weed, and notice the smell of weed lingering on the clothes of passersby in the streets. A boy steals his security-guard father’s gun to show it to his friends, another runs into trouble disposing of a body, and another relapses into an old graffiti habit, with tragic consequences . Drugs and poverty colour them, but these stories also depict the pain of growing up with attendant hopes and desires.

Geovani Martins has produced a spellbinding debut about masculinity, corruption, guilt, poverty and resilience. Completely of our time and yet profoundly timeless, it’s a book that animates and humanises the people of a city whose humanity is often obscured by its own reputation.

Critic Reviews

Every so often a writer blasts a hole through a wall. Geovani Martins is that writer. The Sun on My Head is a blaze of heat, love and risk that will leave you reeling.

D B C Pierre, author of VERNON GOD LITTLE
Critic Reviews

Geovani Martins is an extraordinary writer... The Sun on My Head is one of the most important imaginings of the devastating inequality that plagues Brazilian society since City of God.

Misha Glenny, author of McMAFIA
Critic Reviews

These stories are explosive. Razor sharp, funny, full of desperation and longing, Martins's voice catches you and doesn't let you go. He writes with dry-eyed clarity and unbeatable heart.

Akil Kumarasamy, author of HALF GODS
Critic Reviews

Tense, colourful snapshots of the life in these bustling communities, with their heavily armed drug gangs, police oppression and relentless poverty . . . [Martins] riddles his phrases with favela slang, freestyling into hazy existential monologues when his characters succeed in scoring marijuana – a constant preoccupation in the city he describes.

Critic Reviews

Geovani Martins’s vibrant debut The Sun On My Head offers so much: a sense of urgency which is both collective and stylistic; a set of voices searching for another world and another kind of language; a personal, sensorial poetics that manages to produce epiphanies at the very heart of social conflicts.

Andrés Neuman, author of TRAVELLER OF THE CENTURY
Critic Reviews

‘Martins shows us that the language of the favelas is just as legitimate as the language of the academy, keeping “literature” true to everyday form. Julia Sanches preserves this legitimacy in English, delivering a carefully crafted translation filled with colloquialisms, slang, and Portuguese. The result is “some real trifling shit”—a wild ride that exposes us to the complexities of life in the periphery and the complexities of translating that life from one language into another . . . This is a book that lives on the streets, among the people of Rio’s favelas.’


Geovani Martins was born in 1991 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He grew up with his mother in the neighbourhood of Vidigal. He supported his writing by working as a sandwich-board man and selling drinks on the beach, and was discovered during creative writing workshops at Flup, the literary festival of the Rio favelas. The Sun on My Head is…

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