If The New Yorker had a Brazilian baby brother, bastard & alternative, it would be called Piauí. The lengthy articles - wordy and mostly photo-free - often adorned with illustrations, brings the American counterpart to mind.
Piauí is a large format monthly magazine, the brainchild of João Moreira Salles, with mostly Brazilian-themed articles. But you have to read Piauí to really get it. It covers any subject that will make an interesting article. All themes and subjects are welcome, when dealt with intelligence. Sports, health, politics, arts, fashion, tele-novelas or odontology. It could be profiles, chronicles, journals, even fictional work. No preset editorial agenda or political stance. Articles do not need to be current as far as they make an interesting, well written and enjoyable reading, tinted with humour no less. I will personally testify that there's plenty to read in Piauí. A few day's worth of reading maybe, depending on how much time you spend on it. Bathroom reading time, let's say. But the volume of text does not equal "filler". Piaui is very well edited, or better say, curated. Highbrow, but never "crunchy".
The publishers have covered articles as diverse as prison diaries, small town color-wars, theft of a stuffed goat's tail, cosplay conventions, egg-donors for pay and monkey watching. Even subjects that might not have any appeal to some (me), let's say Brazilian gangsta rap, pulls you in from the first paragraph on, seducing you all the way to the last sentence. Brazilian contributors and writters, mostly under 30, are side-by-side with top shelf names like Woody Allen and Elvis Costello, as guest writers.
But let's focus on the magazine's name a bit. Piauí is a state in the Northeast of Brazil, often thought to be forgotten by the rest of the country. School text books have printed maps in the past while omitting it by mistake. Even famous politicians have publicly diminished it's role in Brazil's current affairs, unfairly I must say. The magazine gives importance to what, for being ignored, is believed to be insignificant.
"My first Piauí" (you never forget!) was a few issues ago. I read somewhere about this interesting article on high fashion piracy in Brazil, published by some odd-named magazine. I asked around and, when I found it, I couldn't believe my eyes. That was IT? When I think of interesting magazines I envision luscious European publications with glossy paper, cutting-edge photography and intriguing names, like Purple or Wallpaper. Piauí is published in news-print, dull and flat. The cover choices still get to me a bit. I get the "alternative" vibe, but they need some work in my opinion. Too obscure or too genius - I'm on the fence on that still. But as your mom probably often told you: "Don't judge a book by it's cover". Piauí is the prime example of that saying.
I love Piauí and so should you. Give it a try and you will be pleasantly surprised.
If in Rio you can purchase their past 11 published issues at Banca Piauí (no relation), in Baixo Leblon.