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The José Saramago Literary Prize (Prêmio Literário José Saramago) is awarded biennially to young authors of unpublished fictional works in Portuguese.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

December 2020 print arrivals from Africa (in Portuguese): literature, and the diaries of the first female African president

I was very pleased when back in early December I was asked to come to the Library for one day to help with the processing of newly arrived print books and reader requests. Going back to our beloved UL meant catching up with a few colleagues (from a distance) and also remembering how very satisfactory it is to deal with physical books from a sensory perspective. Touching many diverse books is definitely something I was missing, as my colleague felt too. I also remembered a comment by another -former- colleague: she thought books coming from some of the countries we deal with had distinctive smells.

That day back in the Library I could not distinguish any particular smell other than paper of varying ages, but I was certainly very happy to see books from Portuguese-speaking Africa arriving to enrich our collections. In the gallery below you will see some covers that illustrate a range of literary works published in Angola and Guinea-Bissau. Some of them are poetry works, like Sem intenção, by Rui Jorge Semedo (Guinea-Bissau), Borboleta dos meus vagares, by Denise Kangandala (Angola) and Alma de kaluanda, by Cremilda de Lima (Angola). Others are collections of short stories like O homem que plantava aves, by Gociante Patissa (Angola) and Fora de Jogo (Guinea-Bissau), or collections of folk tales like Tempu di Mininesa (Guinea-Bissau), edited and translated by Teresa Montenegro and Carlos de Morais.

The book that caught my attention however was Os meus três amores: o diário de Carmen Maria de Araújo Pereira.

Carmen Pereira became the first African female president when she led Guinea-Bissau for three days in 1984. Since 1962, she had been a member of the PAIGC (Partido Africano para a Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde) and participated actively in the movements that sought independence of these West African countries from Portugal. By 1966, Carmen Pereira was leading women in an armed and doubly revolutionary struggle, that of independence and gender-equality in the context of a very sexist society. Meanwhile, her political role in the country also developed and she became a representative at the Pan African Women’s Organisation. She was persecuted for her activities and later had to go into exile in Angola and the Soviet Union, where she studied medicine. On her return, from 1975, she was Chair of the National Assembly and also Minister of Health and Social Affairs. In 1984, as president of the National Assembly, she became Guinea-Bissau’s Acting Prime Minister until a new constitution was approved. She held other institutional roles until 1992 and died in 2016.

This autobiographical book was published shortly after her death and was edited by Odete Costa Semedo, an eminent Bissau-Guinean poet and member of the PAIGC. It includes her diaries, interviews and family images and it gives a clear testament to what it meant to be a woman, a revolutionary and a mother during crucial times in Guinea-Bissau’s history.

Clara Panozzo

Further reading:

Rothwell, P., “Carmen Pereira’s Os meus três amores: the voice of militant motherhood in Guinea-Bissau“. In Journal of Romance Studies, Volume 19, Issue: 3, Pages: 511-525.

A revolutionary anthology in 1960s Portugal

Natalia antologia 1965

The new edition (745:23.c.201.7)

The UL recently acquired a new edition of the Antologia de poesia portuguesa erótica e satírica, a book that represents an important part of Portuguese literary and political history. First published in December 1965, the book’s release earned its editor, the poet and writer Natália Correia, a 3-year suspended prison sentence.

To 21st century eyes, this is a scholarly and comprehensive work of anthology. It compiles works by most of the major figures in Portuguese poetry dating back to the medieval troubadours, including Camões, Bocage, Almeida Garrett, Fernando Pessoa and António Botto. Also included are those then-contemporary poets – such as Maria Teresa Horta, Mário Cesariny, Herberto Helder, Luiz Pacheco, Jorge de Sena and Natália Correia herself – who have since come to be considered equally canonical. Therefore, it is interesting to reflect on the “seismic shock” (as Correia described it) that the book caused on its initial publication. Continue reading

Mário Cesariny: Between us and words


Poesia / Mário Cesariny. Assírio & Alvim, 2017.

The UL recently acquired Poesia by Mário Cesariny (1923 – 2006), the first comprehensive collection of poetry by the Portuguese Surrealist. The library began collecting Cesariny’s work in the late 1980s, when much of his poetry was re-published and gained a new audience – but by which time he himself had more or less abandoned writing to focus on painting.

Cesariny was born and lived his whole life in Lisbon, though during his early 20s he briefly studied art at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris. While he was there, in 1947 he met one of his major influences,  André Breton. Spurred on by this encounter, Cesariny and his circle, who regularly met at Lisbon’s cafe A Mexicana, formed the Grupo Surrealista de Lisboa later that same year. Before formalising the birth of Portuguese Surrealism, these young writers and artists, amongst them the poet Alexandre O’Neill, had already begun to reject the strict Neo-Realism that had formed the dominant artistic opposition to Salazar’s regime. Continue reading

European literature in English translation : recent prizewinners

A recent blog post on Brazilian authors at the Paris book fair contrasted the numerous works of contemporary Brazilian literature in French with the far smaller number of titles which have appeared in English. It should be recognised, however, that the Society of Authors, with support from the Arts Council and a number of other funding bodies, administers prizes for published translations into English from Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Spanish and Swedish. Not all prizes are awarded annually, however, which accounts for the different years in the list of awards which follows. It is standard procedure in our catalogue entries to give an access point for all literary translators as well as authors, as well as to provide the title of the original work wherever possible.


Items collected at the UL

Vondel prize for Dutch translation

Winner in 2013: David Colmer for his translation of The misfortunates by Dimitri Verhulst (Portobello). 2012.8.1300

Original: De helaasheid der dingen. [On order]

Continue reading