Near to the Wild Heart is Clarice Lispector's first novel, written from March to November 1942 and published around her twenty-third birthday. The novel, written in a stream-of-consciousness style reminiscent of the English-language Modernists, centers around the childhood and early adulthood of a character named Joana, who bears strong resemblance to her author: "Madame Bovary, c'est moi", Lispector said, quoting Flaubert, when asked about the similarities. The book, particularly its revolutionary language, brought its young, unknown creator to great prominence in Brazilian letters and earned her the prestigious Graça Aranha Prize.
Joana, a young woman very much in the mode of existential contemporaries like Camus and Sartre, ponders the meaning of life, the freedom to be one's self, and the purpose of existence. Near to the Wild Heart does not have a conventional narrative plot. It instead recounts flashes from the life of Joana, between her present, as a young woman, and her early childhood. These focus, like most of Lispector's works, on interior, emotional states of mind.