Bringing together leading artists, writers, architects, musicians, filmmakers and other creative luminaries with the brightest young stars in their field, the Rolex Mentor and Protégé programme is an ambitious cultural exchange. The protégés reveal what mentoring has meant to them and how their lives have changed as a result.

The Brazilian writer, critic and translator Julián Fuks was born in São Paulo, and is the author of three novels, a short-story collection and a children’s book. His last novel, A Resistência (Resistance), won Brazil’s Jabuti prize for Best Novel of the Year 2016.

W*: Describe your time with your mentor, the Mozambican writer Mia Couto.
Julián Fuks: I think, from the moment we met, Mia and I have been carrying on a conversation, and it has been a very long and pleasant one. Many times we changed the backdrop – first Maputo, then the Azores, São Paulo, Lisbon, London – and with the scenery some of our ideas might have changed as well. In the beginning I talked a lot about what I intended to do throughout this year; I had the opportunity to explore in detail the reasons behind my fiction projects, past and future. Then we slowly shifted the conversation to something closer to doubts and fears, the inevitable hesitations in every literary work in progress. After a while I started sending Mia my new writings, for his very wise and precise interventions. And Mia has been generous enough to send me the manuscripts of the trilogy he has been writing, sharing with me his own doubts and hesitations.

W*: What have you been working on over the last year?
JF:
I have been writing a new novel entitled The Occupation, an autofictional work that in a way follows up my previous novel, Resistance – occupying and resisting have become fundamental acts in the times we live in, and fundamental material for contemporary literature. Though it may take another year until I write the last line, the novel will have a collaborative aspect: it will contain letters to Mia Couto exploring the creative process (in a fictional manner, of course), and perhaps a letter from him.

W*: How would you sum up the Rolex scheme?
JF:
Despite the common myth of the antisocial artist, no one produces art in total silence and isolation. The exchange of ideas and impressions is crucial to any creative process, and this, in the most fecund circumstances, is what the Rolex programme provides.

As originally featured in the January 2018 issue of Wallpaper* (W*226)