© João Pedro Marnoto
Lídia Jorge was born in Boliqueime, southern Portugal, in 1946. She studied French Literature in Lisbon and spent some years teaching in Angola and Mozambique, during the independence struggle. She now lives in Lisbon. Her first two novels placed her in the avant-garde of contemporary Portuguese literature and since then she has received numerous prestigious awards for her work. In 2013, Lídia Jorge was honoured as one of the “10 greatest literary voices” by the renowned French Magazine Littéraire, and in 2014, she was awarded the Premio Luso-Español de Arte y Cultura. She has been awarded the Vergílio Ferreira Award 2015 for her body of work.
Lídia Jorge's new novel Estuary (“Estuário”) is located in present-day Lisbon. The main character is Edmundo Galeano, the youngest son of a shipowning family. After a wrong investment decision by the eldest brother, their possessions are reduced to a house at the mouth of the Tagus and two ships at anchor costing money instead of generating it. In vain the father writes letters to the relevant minister, who was once the boyfriend of his daughter. Edmundo returned three months ago from a posting with a refugee organization in Africa. He lost part of his right hand in an accident in Kenya's Dadaab, the continent's largest refugee camp. He now tries to learn again to write by copying out lines from the "Ode Marítima" by Fernando Pessoa. He is planning a book about the tremendous suffering he has seen in Africa, but his father's suicide and the bad luck that hits his family redirect his interest to his own world and the familiar people around him. In the end he can only write about them.
Estuary is a book about the vulnerability of a man, a family, a society and the very equilibrium of the Earth. A novel of great poetic power about the urgent questions of our time.
I wanted to write the story of a family that resisted adversity, each of them trying to hide their private lives from the other. (...) I wanted this Estuary to be the simile of the place through which the river of stories flows, pausing for a moment on the whiteness of the page before disappearing into oblivion.
Those We Shall Remember (”Os Memoráveis”) tells the intriguing story of a number of participants in Portugal’s Carnation Revolution of 1974. When the journalist Ana Maria is asked to make a documentary about this historic event for a US TV channel, she returns to her native Lisbon. Looking for more information in her father’s house, who was also a journalist, she finds a photo of some revolutionaries, taken some time after the event. As she discovers, they all have their own stories to tell, and their personal experiences will change Ana Maria’s perception of her country forever.
Written with great psychological subtlety and power of language, Os Memoráveis is a fascinating literary contemplation of Portugal’s arduous road to democracy.
A hypnotic novel. This woman deserves, as much as the Mozambican Mia Couto, to be the second lusophone writer crowned with the Nobel Prize for Literature.
A prose of rare density. Handled with remarkable skill.
How long have we been waiting for a book like this!
A small masterpiece.
Jornal de Letras
A flow of talent and sensitivity.
The Night of the Singing Women ("A noite das mulheres cantoras") is written with great psychological subtlety and power of language. The student Solange, a member of an all-girl band, witnesses the charismatic lead singer Gisela pressurising young Madalena because she is pregnant, and then covering up her death. Many years will pass before Solange can face up to these events again – and to Gisela, the woman she admired so much back then.
The author is back with A Noite das Mulheres Cantoras, a novel where guilt, charisma and memory dictate the characters' survival.
Os Meus Livros
Her first two novels placed her in the avant-garde of contemporary Portuguese literature and ever since she has received numerous prestigious awards for her work. Lídia Jorge aims to illustrate the changes which have or have not taken place in Portuguese society since 1974. She mainly chooses two settings: the world of her childhood, the rural South of Portugal, as for example in The Painter of Birds (“O vale da paixão”) or The Wind Whistling in the Cranes (“O vento assobiando nas gruas”) or the city of Lisbon, as in News from the City Jungle (“Notícia da cidade silvestre”) or The Garden without Limits (“O jardim sem limites”), except for The Murmuring Coast (“A costa dos murmúrios”), a powerful book about the colonial war, which was a decisive experience for the author’s generation.
Portugal can count among its citizens three of the premier novelists writing today: José Saramago, António Lobo Antunes and Lídia Jorge. She writes with a gorgeous economy and an urgent beauty. The Painter of Birds is the work of a master.
The Painter of Birds unites the best of Lídia Jorge’s writing, indeed almost the best of Portuguese culture, which is always determined to preserve the past, perhaps nostalgically, but also to conquer the future […] Jorge’s lyrical prose has an inwardness that is both gentle and brutal; here it attains an unusual beauty. The Painter of Birds is certainly one of the best contemporary Portuguese novels.
The novel The Wind is Whistling in the Cranes (“O vento assobiando nas gruas”) was published in 2002 and has been awarded the prize of the Günter Grass Foundation, ALBATROS, in 2006. Grandmother Regina Leandro has fled from hospital and is later found dead in front of the entrance to the old cannery in Valmares. Milene, the grand-daughter who lived with her, is the only one there to organise her funeral; her other relatives are away on holiday. Milene, a rather simple-minded person, now tries to find the right words to describe their grandmother’s death to the relatives. The Leandro family, Milene's aunts and uncles, belong to the wealthy upper-class. The old factory - founded in 1908 - is meantime being rented and lived in by a large family from Cabo Verde. Milene, totally exhausted by the events surrounding the death of her grandmother and initially speechless, is cordially welcomed into that family and stays with them over night.
Thus The Wind is whistling in the Cranes is set in two worlds: on the one hand, the history of the cannery, Milene's aunts and their husbands and men friends, her cousins, all intent on insuring that their reputation is not tarnished by the lonely death of the old woman. All kinds of interests have to be defended, political and financial. The factory is to be sold; the site close to the beach is ideally located for a modern building project. On the other hand, there is the family from Cabo Verde, the old Ana Mata, her daughters and grand-children. A shy relationship develops between Ana Mata’s widowed but young grand-son Antonio, a crane-driver and father of two children, and Milene. When the Leandros finally discover this, they are horrified.
The atmosphere in the novel is coloured by Milene’s unprejudiced view of the people and the events. Looked upon by her relatives as the poor childish orphan, in the very restrictedness of her small world and in all her innocence Milene displays great human warmth and courage.
Literary audaciousness and analytic acerbity mark Lídia Jorge's texts.
We Shall Fight the Shadows (“Combateremos a sombra”) is a courageous and political novel about our times and about Portugal in the era of globalisation. It tells the fascinating story of three months in the life of the psychiatrist Osvaldo Campos. In the night of the 31st December 2000, he runs into Rossiana, an assistant radiologist, who has just seen a drug courier die in her clinic when a package burst inside his intestines. The clinic is clearly working together with the drug smugglers. Because she knows too much, she is to be killed, but can hide in the house where Osvaldo works. A love affair develops between her and the psychiatrist.
The immediacy of these events finally shakes Osvaldo awake, and through his patents’ stories and traumas he uncovers a conspiracy trafficking in drugs and human beings, in which important public figures are implicated. Suddenly, the evil gets too much for him. “Lying is connected with death”, he writes in his notebook. He has to act, so he turns to the press. The novel also passes on a message of hope, despite its bleak view of our present.
In the book, Portugal is subjected to a constant downpour. Bridges collapse and the water takes everything with it, including corpses. This apocalyptic vision reflects that of a depressive country, where lethargy and apathy have spread like the floodwater – where, in the author’s words, “the chemists have sold out of sedatives”. The title Combateremos a sombra puts salt in the wound and is an attempt to stir awareness for the injustices which are all too common in Portugal and around the world. With the narrative force we have come to expect, Lídia Jorge invites us to join her in a gripping reading experience.
The psychological tension leads the reader to a unique vantage point, at the hand of a writer who insists in showing that there is nothing more real than dreams, and nothing more fantastic than reality.
Lisbon: Dom Quixote 2018, 214 p.
Those We Shall Remember (”Os Memoráveis“)
Lisbon: Dom Quixote 2014, 352 p.
Albania: Ombra ● Brazil: Leya ● France: Métailié 2015 ● Italy: Urogallo ● Mexico: Elefanta ● Poland: Świat Książki 2016
The Night of the Singing Women (”A noite das mulheres cantoras“)
Lisbon: Dom Quixote 2011, 317 p.
France: Métailié 2012 ● Israel: Hakibbutz 2017 ● Italy: Urogallo ● Romania: Univers 2014
We Shall Fight the Shadows (”Combateremos a sombra“)
Lisbon: Dom Quixote 2007, 484 p.
France: Métailié 2008 ● Israel: Hakibbutz 2012
The Wind Is Whistling in the Cranes (”O vento assobiando nas gruas“)
Lisbon: Dom Quixote 2002, 538 p.
Grande Prémio de Romance 2003, Prémio Correntes d’Escritas 2004
Brazil: Record 2007 ● France: Métailié 2004 ● Germany: Suhrkamp 2005 ● Israel: Hakibbutz 2007 ● Italy: Urogallo ● Serbia: Arhipelag 2011
The Painter of Birds (”O vale da paixão“)
Lisbon: Dom Quixote 1998, 241 p.
Brazil: Record 2003 ● Croatia: Hena-Com 2017 ● France: Métailié 2000 ● Germany: Suhrkamp 2000 ● Greece: Polis 2004 ● Israel: Hakibbutz 2005 ● Italy: Bompiani 2003 ● Romania: Editura Art 2008 ● Slovenia: Mladinska 2007 ● Spain: Seix Barral 2001 ● Sweden: Bromberg 2001 ● UK: Harvill 2001 ● US: Harcourt 2001
The Garden without Limits (”O jardim sem limites“)
Lisbon: Dom Quixote 1995, 375 p.
France: Métailié 1998 ● Germany: Suhrkamp 1997, pb 1999 ● Greece: Polis 2001 ● Spain: Alfaguara 1995
A última dona
Lisbon: Dom Quixote 1992, 337 p.
France: Métailié 1995 ● Romania: Editura Art
The Murmuring Coast (”A costa dos murmúrios“)
Lisbon: Dom Quixote 1988, 259 p.
Film directed by Margarida Cardoso, 2004
Brazil: Record 2004 ● Bulgaria: Five Plus 2011 ● Colombia: Ediciones Uniandes ● France: Métailié 1989 ● Germany: Suhrkamp 1993, pb 1995 ● Greece: Polis 2002 ● Italy: Giunti 1992 ● The Netherlands: Arena 1991 ● Spain: Alfaguara 2001 ● US: Univ. of Minnesota Press 1995
News from the City Jungle (”Notícia da cidade silvestre“)
1984, Lisbon: Dom Quixote 1994, 354 p.
France: Métailié 1988 ● Germany: Suhrkamp 1990, pb 1992 ● Spain: Alfaguara 1990
The Pier of the Snacks (“O cais das merendas”)
Lisbon: Europa-América 1982; Dom Quixote 1995, 251 p.
The Day of the Miracles (”O dia dos prodígios“)
Lisbon: Europa-América 1980; Dom Quixote 1995, 206 p.
France: Métailié 1991 ● Germany: Beck & Glückler 1989, Suhrkamp pb 1992 ● The Netherlands: de Prom 1996
O amor em Lobito Bay
Lisbon: Dom Quixote 2016, 192 p.
Spain: Libros de la Umbría y la Solana
Praça de Londres
Lisbon: Dom Quixote 2008, 98 p.
Italy: Arcolaio ● Slovenia: LUD
O belo adormecido
Lisbon: Dom Quixote 2004, 241 p.
Marido e outros contos
Lisbon: Dom Quixote 1997, 141 p.
Bulgaria: Five Plus ● Germany: die horen 1999 ● Slovenia : LUD ● Spain: Ed. Xerais 2005 (Galician)
Lisbon: Dom Quixote 1992, 39 p.
Brazil: Peirópolis ● France: Métailié 1995 ● Germany: Suhrkamp 1998, Diogenes 2013 ● Italy: Urogallo 2010 ● US: Grand Street 1999
O romance do grande gatão
Lisbon: Dom Quixote 2010, 48 p.
O grande voo do pardal
Lisbon: Dom Quixote 2007, 28 p.
O conto do nadador
Lisbon: Contexto, 1992
Participation in anthologies:
Best European Fiction 2018
US: Dalkey Archive Press 2017
Take Six: Six Portuguese Women Writers
UK: Dedalus, 2018
(several stories, taken from: "A Instrumentalina e outros contos" and "O Amor em Lobito Bay")