Dulce Maria Cardoso

Portugal

©  Tiago Mirando

 

 

Dulce Maria Cardoso, born in Trás-os-Montes in 1964, is one of the most important literary voices in Portugal. She spent her childhood in Angola and returned to Portugal in 1975, shortly after Portugal’s Carnation Revolution and Angola’s independence. She studied law, worked as a lawyer and wrote scripts for the cinema. The author has received numerous prizes for her literary work, such as the European Union Prize for Literature 2009 for Os meus sentimentos and the Portuguese PEN Prize 2011 for O Chão dos pardais.

O retorno, her latest novel, was awarded the Special Prize of the Critics 2011 in Portugal, and was selected as Book of the Year 2011. It has also been voted as number 4 of the 10 favourite books 2014 of the French financial newspaper Les Échos.

 

 

O retorno (“The Return”) tells the captivating story of fifteen-year-old Rui, whose family, like a hundred thousand other whites, has to leave Angola after independence from Portugal is declared. For the first time, Rui touches the ground of the “metropolis”, as his mother has always referred to Lisbon in a tone of longing. In this unexpectedly run-down city, Rui not only struggles with the uncertain fate of his father, who stayed behind, but also with finding his place in hostile surroundings. In a personal and clear way, Cardoso describes a crucial moment in Portugal’s history and tells a story that could have happened to so many returners elsewhere in the world. The novel has been voted as number 4 of the 10 favourite books 2014 of the French financial newspaper Les Échos.

 

 

It is extremely rare to find a book with the potential to startle and move us in this manner. With O Retorno, Dulce Maria Cardoso surely enters the pantheon of great writers.

Público

 

The language of O retorno is of a precision that is lyrical and delicate in its absoluteness, but also harsh and dry, oscillating beween feelings with a subtlety that only great authors possess. The story’s universe is so well constructed that the reader laughs, cries and feels attracted to the characters as if he knew them. Life itself with its pains and joys seeps from the pages, powerful and real.

Tatiana Salem Levy, O Globo

 

From Dulce Maria Cardoso, probably the most important writer of her generation, comes O Retorno, the first serious example of literary reflection on the half a million returnees who arrived in Portugal in 1975.

Público

 

A captivating coming-of-age novel inspired by the author’s own story.

Livres Hebdo

 

 

 

Her second novel, Os meus sentimentos (“My Sentiments”), revolves around Violeta, a middle-aged woman who earns her living as a sales representative for hair removal products. At the very beginning of the novel Violeta suffers a heavy car crash. Until the end the reader can’t be sure whether she has survived or not. Her subconscience, however, lives on and scenes of the past start moving before her inner eye, overlapping each other and getting mixed up with events just before the accident. Her French-speaking mother, who has a beauty ideal that Violeta could never live up to with her unshapely big body, reappears, as well as her father, who was denounced by his illegitimate son during the Carnation revolution. Violeta also remembers the difficult discussions she had with her daughter Dora, who was idolized and spoilt by her grandparents for being so different from her mother. Having been freed from the burden of her own existence, Violeta, who was often called a scarecrow by people on the street due to her conspicuous presentation, now takes a sharp look behind the façade of her fellow human beings.

Os meus sentimentos captivates the reader by the exceptional narrative talent of Dulce Maria Cardoso and her poetic and precise language. With empathy rather than sentimentality she creates lively characters and draws an unsparing portrait of today’s society.

 

 

Campo de sangue (“Field of Blood”) is Cardoso’s first novel, for which she received the Grande Prémio Acontece. Four women who have nothing to say to one another wait nervously in the dim light of an inhospitable room. Four women, all of whom have a special relationship with a man who just committed a murder: his mother, his landlady, his ex-wife and a young girl who is expecting a child from him. The events unfurl in the form of flash-backs in which the relationships of the individual women to each other are highlighted. The narrative returns repeatedly to the point of departure. Except for Eva, the murderer's ex-wife, no one in this unusual and profound novel has a name. The man and Eva, who both come from poor families, separated six years ago. Although Eva married a rich man immediately afterwards, they continue to meet as lovers. As his wife, Eva used to work to keep them both, and now as his ex-wife she continues to finance him with her new husband's money B out of exaggerated, almost demented love, it is said. One day the man murders a woman he does not know by stabbing her several times in the chest, explaining afterwards that she was his girlfriend and that he wanted her heart. Beauty and loneliness can cause a person to lose their mind.

In an objective and yet poetic language, Dulce Maria Cardoso describes a world of hopelessness and repressed feelings in which everything is a deceptive game in the search for a truth that does not exist.

 

 

A vibrant style. A brilliant novel.

De Standaard

 

Every word is in the right place and the result is pure music.

De Volkskrant

 

 

 

 

Awards:

Book of the year 2011 - Spezial Prize of the Critics (Portugal)

O retorno

 

Portuguese PEN Club Prize 2010

Ciranda Prize 2010

O chão dos pardais

 

European Union Prize for Literature 2009

Os meus sentimentos

 

Grande Prémio Acontece de Romance 2009

Campo de sangue

 

Dulce Maria Cardoso is Chevalier of the French Order of Arts and Letters

 

 

 

Novels:

 

O retorno

Lisbon: Tinta da China 2011, 272 p.

German sample translation available

Book of the Year in Portugal, Special Prize of the Critics 2011

English PEN Translates Award 2016

Albania: Fjala 2015 Brazil: Tinta da China 2012 Colombia: Tragaluz 2015Croatia: Bozicevic 2016Egypt: Bait El Yasmin (Arabic world rights)France: Stock 2014 Greece: Kastaniotis India: Falcon Books Italy: Voland 2013 Macedonia: Antolog 2014 Serbia: Geopoetika 2015 Slovenia: Cankarjeva Zalozba 2014 Spain: Libros de la Umbría y la Solana UK: MacLehose Press 2016, pb 2017

 

O chão dos pardais

Lisbon: Asa 2009, 224 p.

Portuguese PEN Club Prize 2010, Ciranda Prize 2010

Dutch translation available

Italy: Voland 2011 Netherland: Prominent

 

Os meus sentimentos

Lisbon: Asa 2005, 352 p.

European Union Prize for Literature 2009

Albania: Dudaj Bulgaria: Ergo Books 2011 Colombia: Tragaluz Croatia: Disput 2011 France: L’esprit des Peninsules 2005 Greece: Nisos 2011Hungary: HolnapItaly: Voland 2007 Macedonia: Antolog Netherlands: Meulenhoff 2009, pb 2011 Serbia: Booka 2011

 

Campo de sangue

Lisbon: Asa 2002, 288 p.

Grande Prémio Acontece de Romance

Argentina: Adriana Hidalgo 2005 Brazil: Companhia das Letras 2005 (avail.) France: Phébus 2002 Italy: Voland 2002 Spain: El Gall 2006 (Catalan)

 

 

Short stories:

Tudo são histórias de amor

Lisbon: Tinta da China 2014, 161 p.

Italy: Voland 2017

 

Até Nós

Lisbon: Asa 2008, 144 p.

 

 

Children’s Books:

Lôá e a vêspera do primeiro dia

(Ill. by Vera Tavares)

Lisbon: Tinta da China 2014, 51 p.

 

Lôá perdida no paraíso

(Ill. by Vera Tavares)

Lisbon: Tinta da China 2014, 51 p.

 

A Bíblia de Lôá

(Consisting of Lôá e a vêspera do primeiro dia, Lôá a perdida no paraíso,

Lôá e a multidão a caminho, Lôá e o arco-íris rasgado,

Lôá quer voltar para casa, Lôá, a fronteira que divide e a fronteira que une)

Film rights under option for GEM s.r.l., Italy

Italy: Mesogea