‘In others we can get to know ourselves better’

Brasil Observer - Dec 06 2016

(Leia em Português)


With a book recently released in London, Brazilian journalist Ernani Lemos speaks to the Brasil Observer


By Nathália Braga Bannister

Ernani Lemos is a journalist, 35 years old and coordinates TV Globo’s office in London. He has lived in Europe since 2008. But talking about him and his history is not the main point of this interview. Ernani wants to talk about others, literally. The art of observing and writing about people’s behaviour led him to publish the book “Sobre os Outros” (Chiado Editora), or “About the Others”, roughly translated.

A collection of chronicles about people forms the publication, which has the special participation of seven guests. “Maybe, finding out a bit about you, I’ll get to know about me too,” says the author.

In an informal chat, Ernani speaks about coming to London, his work as a writer, the release of his second book, and the challenges and delights of those who live observing the world around them.


You’ve lived in Europe for over nine years. How did you get here?

I left São Paulo in 2008 with my girlfriend, now my wife, Juliana. We decided to have an experience living abroad. We went to Dublin, and there we worked in bars, restaurants, distributing newspapers; it was a very good time. We have always maintained our journalistic work, sending material to Brazil. In 2011, we came to London to cover the royal wedding. That’s when the “big city bug” stung again and we decided to move here.


How did you come up with the idea of ​​writing a book? Was it something you always wanted?

I always wanted to write a book, it’s the dream of almost every journalist. As soon as I arrived in Ireland I went through that wonderful phase of estrangement, everything for you is new, crazy and funny. I created a blog to write about this, in the form of chronicles. I thought at least my mother and my mother-in-law were going to read. I stopped with the blog eventually and, when I wanted to write something, I used to put it on social networks. Last year, I released my first book, a novel [“Onze Semanas”, or “Eleven Weeks”], which was very well received. And it was funny because a lot of people told me that they hoped the book would be a collection of the chronicles I wrote, so this book came up.


Many stories are about moments of daily life. How was the process of writing the text?

It’s almost instantaneous. Most stories happen when I’m alone, walking early in the morning on the street when you have time to look around. I start seeing these funny situations and they turn into text in my head. I stop in the street, write down my cell phone, go home and make sure not to talk to my wife until I write the whole text, so as not to distract the thought.


Some chronicles have a character you know, a friend, for example, and that is only revealed at the end of the text. How did these people quoted in the book respond to this?

The affection is very great, but there is also the jealousy of those who are not in the book. Few people go so far as to declare themselves so openly to others, about the difference they have made in their lives. I think that those who live abroad feel this in a more naked way, this freedom to show feeling that many times those who are in Brazil do not show. The people I’ve always seen call my attention, but I do not see them anymore. So because I miss them they are strange to me, say so, I end up writing about them.


In certain part of the book, you have the participation of bloggers with some texts. How do you deal, as a journalist, with this universe of blogs?

It would be naive to think that only the old established media works. The internet has a very great relevance; everyone can express themselves. In my case, this connection with bloggers naturally happened, but there is a writer friend of mine who praised me for divulging my book among these people. After all, hardly today a young man will open the culture section of a newspaper to find a book. It is in social networks that you end up finding this kind of information.


How were these guests selected?

I know a lot of good people with interesting stories. I tried to have a varied profile of people living in different places. Also, of course, it was people I admired writing. I wanted to show these feelings of estrangement to the guy who takes the book there in Brazil, who was never an immigrant. I wanted people to see some other examples of stories, not to think I’m the only crazy person coming out of Brazil, I miss them and find the other weirdos.


Your first book is a novel. Tell a little about it…

It is a story of mother and daughter, who have not spoken for 16 years. The daughter is a 27-year-old biologist and the mother is also very young, but has cancer, in terminal condition. And there was an event, which, incidentally, is the great mystery of the book, which caused them to separate. The story goes with mother and daughter exchanging information about this event. It’s a quick book to read, focus more on the personality of the people than on the description of the scenarios, something I also have in mind for my next book.


Can you tell us what it is and when you want to release it?

I can talk a little bit. It’s for next year and it’s a novel. A story in which, once again, I speak of human relations, of family. It is also a story about friendship, including people of different ages and also has some philosophical doubts.