Lídia Jorge

Portugal

© 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 Estuário (“Estuary”) 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.

Lídia Jorge

 

 

Os Memoráveis (”Those We Shall Remember”) 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.

Le Figaro

 

A prose of rare density. Handled with remarkable skill.

Télérama

 

How long have we been waiting for a book like this!

Visão

 

A small masterpiece.

Jornal de Letras

 

A flow of talent and sensitivity.

Jornal i

 

 

A noite das mulheres cantoras ("The Night of the Singing Women") 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 O vale da paixão (“The Painter of Birds”) or O vento assobiando nas gruas (“The Wind whistling in the Cranes”) or the city of Lisbon, as in Notícia da cidade silvestre (“News from the City Jungle”) or O jardim sem limites (“The Garden without Limits”), except for A costa dos murmúrios (“The murmuring Coast”), 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.

INQUIRER

 

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.

EL PAÍS

 

 

The novel O vento assobiando nas gruas (“The Wind is whistling in the Cranes”) 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.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

 

 

Combateremos a sombra (“We Shall Fight the Shadows”) 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.

Armanda Alexandra, OJE

 

 

 

Rights

 

Novels:

Estuário

Lisbon: Dom Quixote 2018, 214 p.

France: Métailié

 

Os Memoráveis

Lisbon: Dom Quixote 2014, 352 p.

Albania: Ombra Brazil: Leya France: Métailié 2015 Italy: Urogallo Poland: Świat Książki 2016

 

A noite das mulheres cantoras

Lisbon: Dom Quixote 2011, 317 p.

France: Métailié 2012 Israel: Hakibbutz 2017 Italy: Urogallo Romania: Univers 2014

 

Combateremos a sombra, Lisbon: Dom Quixote 2007, 484 p.

France: Métailié 2008 Israel: Hakibbutz 2012

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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 Netherlands: Arena 1991 Spain: Alfaguara 2001 US: Univ. of Minnesota Press 1995

 

Notícia da cidade silvestre, 1984, Lisbon: Dom Quixote 1994, 354 p.

France: Métailié 1988 Germany: Suhrkamp 1990, pb 1992 Spain: Alfaguara 1990

 

O cais das merendas, 1982, Lisbon: Dom Quixote 1995, 251 p.

 

O dia dos prodígios, 1980, Lisbon: Dom Quixote 1995, 206 p.

France: Métailié 1991 Germany: Beck & Glückler 1989, Suhrkamp pb 1992 Netherlands: de Prom 1996

 

 

Stories (selection):

 

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)

 

A instrumentalina, Lisbon: Dom Quixote 1992, 39 p.

Brazil: Peirópolis France: Métailié 1995 Germany: Suhrkamp 1998, Diogenes 2013 Italy: Urogallo 2010 US: Grand Street 1999    

 

 

Children’s books:

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

Italy : Urogallo

 

 

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")