This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.

In one ofSérgio Sant’Anna’s last stories, a goal post narrates an imaginary soccer scrimmage. The main character in his best-known novel is tortured by the government to reveal the answers to questions on an elementary school test.

Such experimentation, combined with a knack for finding philosophical dilemmas in everyday situations, made Mr. Sant’Anna one of Brazil’s most popular and influential authors.

He died on May 10 in a Rio de Janeiro hospital from Covid-19, his sister Sonia said. He was 78.

Mr. Sant’Anna wrote novels and poetry but was most famous for his short stories, which skewered the fractures within Brazilian society with sardonic humor. His deceptively simple writing and allusions mostly went over the heads of the government censors during the country’s 1964-1986 military dictatorship, even if personally he was not always so lucky.

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