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March 23: Moacyr Jaime Scliar

March 22, 2015

Moacyr-ScliarBrazilian physician and writer Moacyr jaime Scliar, who wrote often about Jewish identity issues, was born in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul on this date in 1937. He published over a hundred books in Portuguese, including novels, short-story collections, non-fiction, and children’s literature, and his fiction, filled with magical realism and humor, has been translated into English, Dutch, French, Swedish, German, Spanish, Italian, Hebrew, Czech, Serbian, and Danish. Scliar’s 1990 novella Max and the Cats became internationally famous in 2002 when that year’s Man Booker Prize-winner, Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, bore it a striking resemblance; in Scliar’s book, a Jewish boy is trapped on a lifeboat with a jaguar. Scliar’s 1984 novel, The Centaur in the Garden, was named by the National Yiddish Book Center as among the “100 Greatest Works of Modern Jewish Literature.” He died in 2011 just short of his 74th birthday.

“In the area of human emotion, doctors and writers also share a common tool: the word. Of course, in both cases the attitude is different. The physician evaluates the emotion, the writer uses it as raw material.” —Moacyr Jaime Scliar