Carolina Maria de Jesus

Mar 14, 1914 - Feb 13, 1977

Carolina Maria de Jesus was a Brazilian outskirts memorialist who lived most of her life as a slum-dweller. She is best known for her diary, published in August 1960 as Quarto de Despejo after attracting the attention of a Brazilian journalist, which became a bestseller and won international acclaim. The work remains the only document published in English by a Brazilian slum-dweller of that period. De Jesus spent a significant part of her life in the Canindé favela in North São Paulo, supporting herself and three children as a scrap collector.
Quarto de despejo did not stop at being an editorial success, it also spawned theatrical plays, musical compositions, illustrations and sayings, and is a source for both individual and collective artistic creations, especially by other Black women from Brazilian city outskirts. De Jesus lends her name to community preparatory schools, theatre halls, saraus and collective action groups. The 2020 edition of the Festa Literária das Periferias was held in honour of de Jesus' memory, on the 60th anniversary of the book's publication.
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