Vanessa Barbara is a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of two novels and two nonfiction books in Portuguese. (June 2018)

Follow Vanessa Barbara on Twitter: @vmbarbara_.

NYR DAILY

Pandemic Journal, March 17–22

A cyclist wearing a mask, New York City, March 18, 2020

Dispatches on the coronavirus outbreak from Madeleine Schwartz in Brooklyn, Anne Enright in Dublin, Joshua Hunt in Busan, Anna Badkhen in Lalibela, Lauren Groff in Gainesville, Christopher Robbins in New York, Elisa Gabbert in Denver, Ian Jack in London, Vanessa Barbara in São Paolo, Rachel Pearson in San Antonio, A.E. Stallings in Athens, Simon Callow in London, Mark Gevisser in Cape Town, Sarah Manguso in Los Angeles, Ruth Margalit in Tel Aviv, Miguel-Anxo Murado in Madrid, Tim Parks in Milan, Eduardo Halfon in Paris, Anastasia Edel in Oakland, and more.

World Cup 2018: Brazil’s Respite from Reality

A boy from Santa Marta favela with his Panini World Cup sticker book, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2014

For the first time in years, people are confident about the squad. Commentators love Brazil’s coach, Tite, as well as the team’s biggest star, Neymar. Besides, we can always count on Jesus—the forward Gabriel Jesus. There is a growing sense of the possibility of redemption by avenging that 7-1 home defeat against Germany in the semifinals of the last World Cup. But whether Brazil succeeds or fails in Russia, the outcome will be equally permeated with an old bittersweet flavor: the feeling that we are second-class citizens of the world trying to look the other way, in the hope that the euphoria of the next four weeks might extend to months or years, maybe a whole lifetime.