The José Saramago Literary Prize

José Saramago (by Mario Antonio Peña via Wikimedia Commons)

The José Saramago Literary Prize (Prêmio Literário José Saramago) is awarded biennially to young authors of unpublished fictional works in Portuguese. The prize is open to Lusophone writers under 40 years of age and it can only be awarded once in a lifetime to each writer (posthumous works are excluded). It was established in 1999 by the Fundaçāo Círculo de Leitores to celebrate the Portuguese Nobel laureate José Saramago, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998.

The José Saramago Prize is currently in its 12th edition, having been postponed last year as a result of the pandemic. The next winner will be announced in October 2022 instead, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of José Saramago’s birth. 

Below are the prize winners with brief snapshots of their country of origin and background, some of their works, and other recognitions they have received. Unfortunately, we have gaps in this list, which we are trying to fill retrospectively.

1999 – Won by Paulo José Miranda for Natureza morta (On order) 

Born in Paio Pires, Seixal, Portugal, 1965. He is a writer of fiction, poetry, and drama. See our Library holdings for this author here.  

Other awards: Grande Prêmio de Poesia Teixeira de Pascoaes (1998) for A voz que os trai, his first book of poetry; Prêmio da Sociedade Portuguesa de Autores (2015) for his book of poetry Exercícios do humano.

2001 – Won by José Luis Peixoto for Nenhum olhar (C200.c.5593

Born in Galveias, Ponte de Sor Portugal, 1974. One of the most acclaimed Portuguese contemporary authors, he was written in multiple literary genres (fiction, poetry, drama, travel literature, and children’s literature) and has been translated into more than 30 languages. See our Library holdings for this author here.  

Other awards: He has won numerous national and international awards, including the Prêmio da Sociedade Portuguesa de Autores (2013) for his book of poetry A criança em ruínas (Library Storage Facility); and the Oceanos Prize (2016) for his novel Galveias (C210.c.1620). 

2003 – Wond by Adriana Lisboa for Sinfonia em branco 

Born in Rio de Janeiro, 1970. She writes fiction, poetry, and books for children. Considered as one of Brazil’s most prominent writers, her works have been translated into most major languages. See our Library holdings for this author here

Other awards: At the 2007 Hay Festival/Bogotá World Book Capital she was named as one of the 39 most distinguished writers under the age of 39. She has also been shortlisted for numerous awards, including the Sāo Paulo Prize for Literature in 2011 and 2014. She is the author of Azul Corvo (C207.c.3027), declared book of the year by The Independent newspaper in 2013 (Crow Blue, C207.c.8162).

2005 – Won by Gonçalo M. Tavares for Jerusalém (C200.d.7647) 

Born in Luanda, Angola, 1970. He is considered one the best fiction writers of his generation. His work Jerusalém was included in the European edition of The 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list. His books have been published in more than 30 countries. See our Library holdings for this author here

Other awards: Prêmio Portugal Telecom (2007) for Jerusalém

2007 – Won by Valter Hugo Māe for O remorso do Baltazar Serapiāo (C203.c.2330) 

Born in Henrique de Carvalho, Colonial Angola, 1971. He is a leading Portuguese author, an editor, and an artist. He has written more than 30 books (fiction, poetry, and children’s literature). See our Library holdings for this author here

Other awards: Grande Prêmo Portugal Telecom de Literatura for A máquina de fazer espanhóis (C207.c.5153) (in the “Best book of the year” and “Best novel of the year” categories, 2012) 

2009 – Won by Joāo Tordo for As três vidas (C207.c.6289) 

Born in Lisboa, 1975. Fiction writer (novels, short stories). His works have been translated into several languages and published in over a dozen countries. See our Library holdings for this author here

Other awards: Portuguese Young Creators Award for Literature (2001); Prêmio Literário Fernando Namora (2021) for the novel Felicidade (C217.c.2495); shortlisted twice for the Prêmio da Sociedade Portuguesa de Autores in the “Best narrative fiction” category (2011, 2015)

2011 – Won by Andrea del Fuego for Os malaquias  

Born in Sāo Paulo, 1975. Writer of novels, short stories, and young adult books. Her work features in several anthologies, including Mais 30 mulheres que estāo fazendo a nova literature brasileira (C204.c.2926) and Capitu mandou Flores (C205.c.5602

2013 – Won by Ondjaki for Os transparentes (C203.d.3833) 

Born in Angola, 1977. He is one of the most prominent writers of Portuguese-Africa. He has written novels, short stories, drama, film scripts, poetry, and children’s books. See our Library holdings for this author here

Other awards: Grande Prêmio de Conto Castelo Branco (2007) for Os da minha rua (Library Storage Facility); 2010 Jabuti Prize for AvóDezanove e O segredo do soviético (C202.d.794). 

2015 – Won by Bruno Vieira Amaral for As primeiras coisas (C212.c.8621) 

Born in Barreiro, Portugal, 1978. Writer, literary critic, and translator, selected by Literary Europe Live as one of the 10 New Voices from Europe 2016. He is deputy editor of the literary magazine LER (L700.b.128 [p/hole: W.384]). See our Library holdings for this author here

Other awards: Time Out Lisboa’s Book of the Year Award (2013); Fernando Namora Literary Award (2013), PEN Narrative Prize (2013) for As primeiras coisas; Grande Prêmio de Conto Castelo Branco (2021) for his book of short stories Uma ida ao motel (C218.c.1464

2017 – Won by Julian Fuks for A resistência (C204.d.9145) 

Born in Sāo Paulo, 1981. He is one of Brazil’s most celebrated young writers, author of novels and short stories. He was featured in Granta’s best young Brazilian novelists magazine. See our Library holdings for this author here.

Other awards: He was awarded the Jabuti Award for Book of the Year (2016), the Oceanos Prize (2016), and the Anna Seghers Prize (2018) for A resistência

2019 – Won by Afonso Reis Cabral for Pāo de açúcar (C217.c.9987) 

Born in Lisboa, 1990. Writer of fiction and poetry. In 2005 he published his book of poetry Condensaçāo, a collection of poems mostly written in his childhood. See our Library holdings for this author here

Other awards: Prêmio LeYa (2014) for O meu irmāo (C211.c.5011)

Sonia Morcillo García

Dario Fo, the 20th century jester (1926-2016)

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From the cover of Dario Fo a Milano: lazzi, sberleffi e dipinti (S950.c.201.296)

Writing this blogpost about Dario Fo, I am filled with emotion. Back in August, nearly two months before his death (and when he already knew his illness was terminal), the 90 year-old Italian actor, playwright, theatre director, stage designer, songwriter, painter and political activist performed on stage for two hours and finished the show singing. I was lucky enough to see him perform when he was “only” in his late 70s, and I still remember his incredible vitality and wit, his eyes shining with youthful enthusiasm, his humanity, irony and cutting words causing simultaneous laughter and deep reflection. Continue reading

Svetlana Aleksievich and Chernobyl : the October 2015 Slavonic item(s) of the month

The 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature laureate Svetlana Aleksievich’s books bring together the narratives of witnesses to some of recent history’s most disturbing events.  The 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster was the subject of her book Chernobyl’skaia molitva (Chernobyl prayer; C203.d.7984 (in Russian) and 429:4.c.95.5 (in English).  This post looks at Aleksievich’s book and others on Chernobyl.

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Chernobyl, in capital letters (ЧЕРНОБЫЛЬ), shown in a 1969 map of Ukraine (Maps.276.96.23).  The nuclear town of Pryp’iat’, famously evacuated after the 1986 disaster, would only be established in 1970.

Svetlana Aleksievich’s name had been discussed in terms of Nobel recognition for some time, and the 2015 prize was awarded to her “for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time”.  In Chernobyl’skaia molitva, Aleksievich writes “this book is not about Chernobyl, but about the world of Chernobyl.  Thousands of pages have already been written and hundreds of thousands of metres of film recorded about the event itself.  What I am concerned with is what would be called “missed” history … I write and collect the feelings, thoughts, and words of everyday life … Chernobyl [for my subjects] is not a metaphor or a symbol: it is their home.”  This is her approach to all her work; her documentary prose provides a stark and compelling picture of events through its use of the voices of the ordinary people caught up in them, the “polyphonic” quality which won her the Nobel prize.  War has featured prominently in her writing so far, with women’s and children’s accounts of the Second World War and soldiers’ experiences of the Soviet-Afghan war accounting for three of her books.  These are among the nine books the University Library currently has by her; these are mainly in Russian (Aleksievich is a Russophone Belarusian writer*), but the number in English will doubtless rise thanks to her Nobel fame. Continue reading

Reymont, recognition, and relegation : the November 2014 Slavonic item of the month

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Front cover of v. 1 of a 1931 edition of Chłopi, Uc.8.6564

In November 1924, the Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to the Polish prose writer Władysław Reymont, the second of four Polish-language literature laureates to date. To mark the award’s anniversary, we look at the University Library’s Reymont holdings, consider our scant acquisitions in recent decades, and search for Reymont in the card catalogue.

Ninety years ago this month, Władysław Reymont was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.  The Swedish Academy always explains its choice.  In Reymont’s case, this was given in some brevity: Reymont was recognised “for his great national epic, The peasants“.  He is one of nine laureates, so far, for whom the Academy has “singled out a specific work for particular recognition” (see the Nobel literature fact page and Reymont’s Nobel page), and the second Polish-language literature laureate, following Henryk Sienkiewicz’s award in 1905. Continue reading

The little-known Nobel laureate

A selection of older Modiano novels in the UL

A selection of Modiano novels in the UL

Since the announcement on October 9th of the 2014 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, much has been written in the media both here and across the Atlantic attempting to answer the question “Who on earth is Patrick Modiano?”. He is a well-known author in his native France, having won both the Grand Prix du roman de l’Académie française in 1972 and the Prix Goncourt in 1978, but is much less renowned in the English-speaking world, perhaps because only a few of his works have been translated into English. Continue reading