Those who have already had the opportunity to visit the São Sebastião square in Manaus , and stroll around the Teatro Amazonas, have certainly come across the iconic Banca do Largo , with its charming structure and elegant arabesques.
On its shelves, treasures in the form of specific knowledge about the northern region of Brazil, with more than 2,000 publications - regional, national and international , books of different styles: historical, geographic, political, bibliographic, economic, artistic and literary. All, like the passionate theme that is the Amazon .
(Anna Lôyde, partner and owner of Manart, checking books from the newsstand in Largo. Photo by Manart)
In addition to the large arsenal of books that attract scholars from all over the world, it is also a space that encourages meetings of knowledge , promoting cultural events such as book launches, lectures and open-air musical shows, amidst a cinematographic scenario of the Largo de São Sebastião, almost always in the late afternoon.
The stand's concept is due to years of dedication by bookseller Joaquim Melo. He knows every publication he sells, and often even its own authors. Joaquim, from a very young age, became a skilful lover of books . Banca do Largo is the realization of a big dream !
(Joaquim Melo, historian, bookseller and owner of Banca do Largo, specialized in books about the Amazon, in the city of Manaus. Photo: Manart)
The story of a bookseller: Joaquim Melo
Since he was a child, Joaquim Melo , the owner of Banca do Largo, was already considered an excellent student at school, largely as a result of his instinctive interest in books.
He was born in 1958, in the interior of Amazonas, in the city of Tefé , where he learned to read. At age 11, he came to Manaus with his family, and his interest in books led him to participate in reading groups made up of students who got together to comment on books they had read.
Joaquim, then, became a promising young man in studies and competitions, being approved in technical courses and several entrance exams, until he identified himself with the economic sciences course, at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN), where he graduated in 1994. In Manaus, he was selected to work at INPA (1979) and Banco do Brasil (1985), where he was transferred to Fortaleza and then to Rio Grande do Norte (1990).
When he returned to the city of Manaus, in 1999, he did what, for him, became a path opener: a specialization in History and Historiography of the Amazon at the Federal University of Amazonas (UFAM). This course took him to the master's degree in Society and Culture in the Amazon, completed in 2007. It was there that Joaquim found himself and until today he is dedicated to writing histories about the Amazon .
(Joaquim Melo, checking out some Manart products inspired by works by visual artists from the city of Manaus. Photo: Manart)
But Banca do Largo was not always like this
Accustomed to frequently visiting newsstands and bookstores wherever he went, in Manaus, the magazine stand in Largo São Sebastião was his favorite. However, there wasn't a book stand there yet, just a common stand, which sold newspapers and magazines on various subjects.
At a given moment, on one of his trips to Manaus, he visited the bank once more, and discovered that the owner of the bank had died. That's when Joaquim saw the opportunity to make a dream come true: to own the bank .
From 2006 to 2008, Joaquim gave space to books, which over time became specific about the Amazon . And because of his dedication and knowledge, he got to know writers, journalists, artists, among others, who strengthened the idea of the book stand in the way we know it today, a place for meetings and powerful speeches in defense of the Amazon .
(Banca do Largo, located next to Teatro Amazonas in the city of Manaus - Amazonas. Photo: Manart)
*** This text was written in 2022, when our products were welcomed by Joaquim Melo, a Manart supporter, to sell the products at the Largo newsstand.
Unfortunately, on January 1, 2023, Joaquim, our dear indicator of good readings about the Amazon, left our city sad with his departure.
To your family and friends, our most sincere condolences!
To God, our Gratitude for the life of Joaquim, our beloved bookseller! ***