Ines Rodrigues

An author shaping identity between immigration, languages and travel

My family makes fun of me all the time because, even after twenty years living my life in English and with two American children, I still mispronounce many of words. In English, I found my fiction voice, even if I still fight (a lot) with prepositions.

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Writing in my second language

The English language gave me the freedom to reinvent myself after I left my native Brazil. Portuguese, my native language, belongs to a different part of my life and sometimes it confines me there as in a straightjacket.

My second language, instead, poses no limits to my imagination. It’s no surprise that, after moving to England and to the US, my career changed: from the Inês Rodrigues journalist and radio host, to the Ines Rodrigues, fiction writer and teacher, with no accent on her name.

A multicultural choice

Of course Brazil and my years in radio and newsrooms shaped the person and the writer I am today. Brazil, and especially my hometown, the gigantic São Paulo, are ingrained in my soul and I am very proud of it. The main character of my first novel, Days of Bossa Nova, rises to become a famous radio personality, like so many I met and admired during my years working on radio, with butterflies in my stomach every time the studio lights ignited the on-air sign.

Like Felipe, my main character, I was also a radio host and reporter for a few years at Radio Gazeta and Cultura AM, São Paulo’s public radio. As a journalist, I also wrote articles for daily newspapers and magazines such as Elle and Marie Claire.

Between Portuguese and English, there’s another chapter in my life: Italian, the language I chose from my heart when I was still a teenager dreaming of traveling. Years ago, I spent some time in Italy, studying at the University of Perugia.  After that, I worked as a translator for Italian artists such as Laura Pausini, Eros Ramazzotti, Lucio Dalla and Amedeo Minghi. Today, I teach Creative Writing at the Writing Institute – Sarah Lawrence College and also Italian at Bronxville Adult School, realizing that I don’t need to make choices between writing fiction and being an Italian maestra. They are both part of the same Ines Rodrigues and complement each other very well, as in a recipe for pizza dough: mix all the ingredients and kneed them with love. The energy of your fingers will create a pie that is unique, like DNA.

Days of Bossa Nova on