Portuguese authors don’t seem to be that well-known to book bloggers who are not Portuguese or from other Portuguese-speaking countries. For that reason, I decided to share with you five of my favourite books by Portuguese writers. They are listed in no special order and I read them throughout the years.
O Ano da Morte de Ricardo Reis (The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis) by José Saramago
Until now I have read three books by the only Portuguese writer to have won the Nobel Prize in Literature, José Saramago. O Ano da Morte de Ricardo Reis (The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis in the English translation) is my favourite. It tells the story of Ricardo Reis, a doctor and a poet, who returns to Portugal after living in Brazil. The idea behind the book stems from Fernando Pessoa’s heteronyms, whom are characters created by the poet to write in different styles. The most famous are Alberto Caeiro, Ricardo Reis and Álvaro de Campos. José Saramago transforms Ricardo Reis into a real person who arrives in Lisbon, after the death of his friend Fernando Pessoa, and discovers a Portugal living under a newly established dictatorship.
Os Maias (The Maias) by Eça de Queirós
As the title suggests, in this book we are introduced to the Maia family. The novel is built around two plots. One focuses on the relationship between Pedro da Maia and Maria Monforte; while the other, which is the main plot of the book, revolves around Carlos da Maia and Maria Eduarda. However, what this novel excels at is creating a portrait of the 19th century Lisbon, its vices and political corruption, with lots of satire in the mix.
O Crime do Padre Amaro (The Crime of Father Amaro) by Eça de Queirós
Eça de Queirós used this novel to criticise the corruption among the Catholic Church. We are told the story of a young priest, Amaro, who doesn’t have a real religious vocation and struggles to keep his vow of celibacy. As in many of his other works, Eça de Queirós was not shy of making use of satire. If you want to know more about this classic Portuguese writer, you can read my author spotlight here.
Livro by José Luís Peixoto
Livro, which means book in Portuguese, is the name of the main character of this novel, what is really important for the development of the story. It has as background the emigration from Portugal to France during the 60’s and the struggles and difficulties the Portuguese had to overcome to achieve a better life. José Luís Peixoto has a beautiful writing style and makes use of the design of the text to help convey the story being told. I couldn’t find a translation to English, though.
A Lua de Joana by Maria Teresa Maia Gonzalez
I read A Lua de Joana a really long time ago, when I was a teenager. However, this is a young adult book that I still remember and was the first one that made me cry. The main character of the book is Joana, who decides to write letters addressed to her friend who died from drug overdose, in order to keep her memory alive.