Sad isn't Quite the Word

Original title: Triste não é ao Certo a Palavra

Author: Abreu, Gabriel

Publication Date:

April 2023



Original language and publisher

Brazilian Portuguese | Companhia das Letras

Territories Handled

Netherlands, Scandinavia, World English


Literary Fiction

Sad isn't Quite the Word

Original title: Triste não é ao Certo a Palavra

Author: Abreu, Gabriel


“One of the most beautiful investigations into loss.” — Aline Bei

“From an anguish as delicate as the very structure of memory, “Sad isn’t quite the word” is about granting a voice. To the son, while he hasn’t yet learned how to speak. To the mother, at a time she is already unable speak. Already, yet — ways of immersing oneself in time which Gabriel integrates, approaches, transposes. This book is driven by the desire to draw a border, to narrate the mother by the use of her archives is a lyrical strategy to make the mother possible, continuously.” — Aline Bei

“In this book, Gabriel Abreu invents a new language, that of unspeakable feelings. A unique book, written by a rare observer of human emotions.” — Juliana Leite

A mosaic that goes beyond the narrative form to create a delicate yet fierce portrait of legacy, memory and love in a relationship between mother and son.

A diary, hundreds of photographs and sixty-eight letters are all that G. has of his mother, besides memories of a shared past. The cardboard box that contains all these elements also carries the expectations and anxieties of a son trying to build his own identity and recover a contact that is no longer possible.

As he goes in search of this woman — of who she was before motherhood, of the mother who was born with him, of the mysteries of individuality –, G. investigates medication package inserts, medical diagnoses, astrological charts. He rewrites letters and emails. He probes himself and concludes: “I write and send you this letter to try to rediscover, in my voice, your own.”

In this sensitive and daring debut novel, Gabriel Abreu assembles an exciting puzzle of records, affections and memories that only a son on the verge of losing his mother can.