With a couple of exceptions, Portuguese authors are not that well known in the English-speaking world. That is one of the reasons why I review almost all of the books I read by them even when translations into English are not yet available. Though I try to read a mix of books written in English and in Portuguese, I feel that I haven’t been reading many contemporary Portuguese authors recently. And by contemporary, for the purpose of this post, I mean authors who are currently alive.
There are six contemporary Portuguese authors that I haven’t read any books by yet, but whose work I’m curious about. Many of their books appeal to me. Nevertheless, there is one book by each of them that I’m more eager to read than the others (I may always change my mind, though).
Born in 1975, João Tordo won the José Saramago Prize in 2009. Despite his relatively young age, he has close to twenty books published. His novels have been catching my attention for some time now, but I haven’t read one yet for reasons unknown. I plan to change that soon. I’ll probably start with Felicidade, whose main character is a 17-year-old teenage boy who feels trapped between two worlds. He falls in love with Felicidade, one of three identical twins, who are known as the Kopejka sisters, in 1973, a time when modernity and tradition are clashing.
Ana Margarida de Carvalho
Ana Margarida de Carvalho, born in 1969, has written three novels and a collection of short stories to considerable critical acclaim. I’ve had Não se Pode Morar nos Olhos de um Gato on my wish list for years, so I’ll probably start delving into her work with this novel. It is set at the end of the 19th century. Even though slavery had already been abolished, a clandestine ship left Africa with enslaved people on board. But, near the Brazilian coast, the vessel sank. The book seems to be a character study about the group of people who managed to survive the journey.
António Lobo Antunes
Recently, many readers seem to have discovered that some authors can be huge snobs and have disrespectful attitudes towards the work of others. This was something that I already knew and that in the past used to bother me. But now I just laugh at it all, and it doesn’t prevent me from reading the books by the authors in question. The Portuguese author António Lobo Antunes is known for speaking offensively about the work of other writers, having called Saramago’s books shit and Eça de Queirós a pygmy.
He was born in 1942 and won the Camões Prize, the most important prize for literature written in Portuguese, in 2007. The first book I plan to read by him is Os Cus de Judas (The Land at the End of the World in the English translation). It’s about a man who had just returned from the colonial war in Angola and decided to talk about it with a woman he met by chance. It comprises 23 chapters, each connected with a letter of the alphabet.
Dulce Maria Cardoso
Born in 1964, Dulce Maria Cardoso won the EU Prize for Literature with the book Os Meus Sentimentos (Violeta among the Stars in the translation into English). That is not the novel I plan to read by her first, though. I’ll probably start with O Retorno (The Return in the English translation). Set in 1975, after the independence of Angola, it has as main character a young boy named Rui, who had to leave Luanda for Portugal with his family and is struggling to adapt to his new life.
Maria Teresa Horta
Maria Teresa Horta, born in 1937, was a politically active feminist during the fascist dictatorship. Together with Maria Isabel Barreno and Maria Velho da Costa, she was taken to court after publishing in 1972 the book Novas Cartas Portuguesas (New Portuguese Letters), which criticised the regime, the colonial war, the discrimination of women, and the patriarchal society supported by the Catholic Church. They were known as the three Marias.
The first book I plan to read by her is Ema, a story about a woman who is oppressed by her family, which leads her to seek revenge.
Djaimilia Pereira de Almeida
Djaimilia Pereira de Almeida is the youngest writer on this list, having been born in 1982. It was only after the release of Luanda, Lisboa, Paraíso, which received many accolades, that I first heard about her. That is possibly the first novel I’ll read by her. It tells the story of Cartola and Aquiles who travel to Lisbon from Angola to receive medical treatment and end up facing various misfortunes.
Have you read or want to read books by any of these authors? Tell me in the comments!