Clarice Lispector (December 10, 1920 – December 9, 1977) was a Brazilian novelist and short story writer acclaimed internationally for her innovative novels and short stories. Born to a Jewish family in Podolia in Western Ukraine, as an infant she moved to Brazil with her family, amidst the disasters engulfing her native land following the First World War.
She grew up in Recife, the capital of the northeastern state of Pernambuco, where her mother died when she was nine. The family moved to Rio de Janeiro when she was in her teens. While in law school in Rio, she began publishing her first journalistic work and short stories, catapulting to fame at the age of 23 with the publication of her first novel, Near to the Wild Heart (Perto do Coração Selvagem), written as an interior monologue in a style and language that was considered revolutionary in Brazil.
She left Brazil in 1944, following her marriage to a Brazilian diplomat, and spent the next decade and a half in Europe and the United States. After returning to Rio de Janeiro in 1959, she began producing her most famous works, including the stories of Family Ties (Laços de Família), the great mystic novel The Passion According to G.H. (A Paixão Segundo G.H.), and what is arguably her masterpiece, Água Viva. Injured in an accident in 1966, she spent the last decade of her life in frequent pain, steadily writing and publishing novels and stories until her premature death in 1977.
She has been the subject of numerous books, and references to her and her work are common in Brazilian literature and music. Several of her works have been turned into films. In 2009, the American writer Benjamin Moser published Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector. Since that publication, her works have been the object of an extensive project of retranslation, published by New Directions Publishing and Penguin Modern Classics, the first Brazilian to enter that prestigious series. Moser, who is also the editor of her anthology The Complete Stories (2015), describes Lispector as the most important Jewish writer in the world since Kafka.