Gringa Reads

Literary Awards for Portuguese Language Lovers: Prêmio São Paulo

AwardsZoe Perry3 Comments

We're in the midst of literary award season! In honor of the winners who have already been announced, and in preparation for those to be revealed very soon, I'll be doing a series of brief run-downs of some of the literary prizes most worth watching in the Portuguese-speaking world. The baby of the prêmio family, Prêmio São Paulo de Literatura, was launched in 2008 by the São Paulo state government and awards novels written in Portuguese and published in Brazil. But don't let its tender age fool you–over the last six years it has risen rapidly in both prestige and popularity (partly due to its generous cash prizes).

Winners are selected in three categories (each with 10 finalists): Best Novel of the Year by an Established Author, Best Novel of the Year by a Debut Author (under 40) and Best Novel of Year by a Debut Author (over 40). The debut author category was split this year by age, which I think is quite cool. To qualify, debut authors are allowed to have published short stories or poems, but it must be their first novel. 2013 winners (check out the finalists here) will be announced on November 25. The shortlists are, of course, full of familiar names, but the inclusion of debut authors means these lists are great places to see early-career authors earn a share of the spotlight, and they become a who's who of writers to watch. Also worth noting is that the requirements stipulate publication in Brazil, not nationality, which is why non-Brazilian authors like José Saramago and Ondjaki pop up.

Here's a selection of titles that are currently (or soon to be) available in English translation:

  • 2008 winner: O Filho Eterno by Cristóvão Tezza (Editora Record, 2007). Alison Entrekin's English translation The Eternal Son (Scribe, 2010) was a finalist for the 2012 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
  • 2009 shortlist: A Viagem do Elefante by José Saramago (Companhia das Letras, 2008). Margaret Jull Costa's English translation, The Elephant's Journey (Vintage, 2010) won the 2011 Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize.
  • 2009 shortlist: Flores azuis by Carola Saavedra (Companhia das Letras, 2008) is currently being translated by Daniel Hahn. You can read his translator's diary about the process on the Free Word Centre website.
  • 2009 shortlist: Órfãos do Eldorado by Milton Hatoum (Companhia das Letras, 2008) English translation, The Orphans of Eldorado, (Canongate, 2010) was translated by John Gledson.
  • 2010 shortlist: Leite Derramado by Chico Buarque (Companhia das Letras, 2009) English title: Spilt Milk by Alison Entrekin (Atlantic, 2012).
  • 2010 shortlist: AvóDezanove e o Segredo do Soviético by Ondjaki (Companhia das Letras, 2009) The English translation, Granma Nineteen and the Soviet's Secret by Stephen Henighan, will be published by Biblioasis in 2014.
  • 2010 shortlist debut author: Se Eu Fechar os Olhos Agora by Edney Silvestre (Editora Record, 2009) English translation by Nick Caistor, If I Close My Eyes Now, was recently published by Doubleday (2013).
  • Adriana Lisboa's Azul Corvo (Rocco, 2010) was shortlisted in 2011. Alison Entrekin's English translation, Crow Blue, published by Bloomsbury, was recently launched at Flipside.
  • 2012 shortlist debut author: Bernardo KucinskiK. (Expressão Popular, 2011), translated by Sue Branford (Latin America Bureau, 2013).
  • 2012 shortlist: Paulo Scott'Habitante Irreal (Alfaguara, 2011) has been translated by Daniel Hahn, (Nowhere People) and will be published by And Other Stories in August 2014.