Caio Fernando Loureiro de Abreu (September 12, 1948 – February 25, 1996), best known as Caio Fernando Abreu, was one of the most influential and original Brazilian writers of the 1970s and 1980s. Caio F., as he habitually signed his letters, was born in Santiago do Boqueirão in the state of Rio Grande do Sul in 1948, and died in Porto Alegre in 1996.
Abreu studied at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul but abandoned academia before graduating to write for pop culture magazines such as Revista Nova, Revista Manchete, Revista Veja and Revista Pop. He was a prolific journalist and literary writer. He wrote short stories, novels, chronicles or crônicas, drama, and he also maintained throughout his life an extensive correspondence with other writers and artists, family and friends.
In 1968 Abreu was put on the wanted list by the DOPS or the Departamento de Ordem Política e Social, a repressive branch of the Brazilian government that operated during years when the repressive military dictatorship was in power, but found refuge at the country estate of Brazilian writer Hilda Hilst, located near the city of Campinas, in state of São Paulo. During the early '70s he spent one year in self-exile in Europe, spending time in England, Sweden, France, the Netherlands and in Spain.
In 1983 he relocated from his native Porto Alegre, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul, to the city of Rio de Janeiro; and in 1985 he moved to the city of São Paulo. Abreu then return again to France in 1994 where he found out that he was HIV positive. That same year he returned home to Porto Alegre permanently to live with his parents. He enjoyed gardening before dying there two years later.
Caio Fernando Abreu literature is a testimony of the culture, society and politics of Brazil in the 1970s and 1980s. As a journalist, he was an active cultural actor, writing reviews and chronicles for a number of Brazilian popular magazines. As a fictional writer, Abreu introduced new identities into the realm of Brazilian literature. His narratives come from the subjectivity of a bisexual man in his mid-forties who has AIDS. In Os dragões não conhecem o paraíso (Dragons), his most famous book of short stories, the majority of characters are either gay or they act as if they are. Examples of such identities are drag queens, gay teenagers, bisexual men, and other individuals whose sexualities and gender identities reside in the periphery of society. A number of literary critics have noted Abreu’s attempt to create a Brazilian queer identity using the figures of monsters or dragons. The characters of books such as Os dragões não conhecem o paraíso (1988), Onde andará Dulce Vega (1990) and Morangos mofados (1982) live and function in the periphery of society, they are in many ways equivalent to queer characters in North American literary traditions.
Brazilian cultural identity in Abreu's writings is anything but a fixed, essential entity, pure from foreign contamination. Abreu is a camp writer since his works are full of examples of queer sensibility, and of multiple appropriations of mainstream heterosexual society into queer narratives. His literature is inspired by writers like Clarice Lispector and Julio Cortázar but also by Brazilian Popular Music MPB, Afro Brazilian music, Hollywood films, and North American literature and music. Abreu’s Brazil is urban, queer, corrupt, isolated, but his main concern is the human existence in an urban setting.