Timeless, what is beyond time. Thus said, it makes us believe that everything that fits in the chest of timelessness lives in a nearly immaterial condition. This is not the case with the ten titles we remember here. In this sense, timeless because everyone tells us stories that fit in many times. In those in which they were written, almost all in the second half of the twentieth century, some already in this twenty-first century.
Mia Couto, Ondjaki, José Luís Peixoto, Dulce Maria Cardoso, Clarice Lispector, Teolinda Gersão, Germano Almeida, Carlos de Oliveira, João Aguiar and José Saramago, fit in this small – number of authors who speak and write the Portuguese language . Regardless of the geography of this Portuguese, in Portugal, Mozambique, Angola, Cape Verde or Brazil and the genre approached, from novel to tale.
Other – many – contemporary writers and writers would fit into this role. But choices have to be made and are never fully fair. Good readings.
"Jesusalém", by Mia Couto
Originally published in 2009, "Jesusalém" by the Mozambican writer Mia Couto (Beira, 1955), tells us the story of Silvestre Vidaício (or Mateus Ventura) and his travels far from the world, or rather, that part of the world inhabited by us . In the face of the hard blow of his wife's death, Silvestre becomes involved with his two children in a refuge that, in the work of the writer awarded the Virgílio Ferreira Prize, takes the form of an abandoned hunting enclosure. Alas, the protagonist installs his kingdom and gives it the name of Jesusalém, the place where the character awaits the return of God.
A story that is brought to us by a narrator next to Matthew Ventura, one of the children, Mwanito to whom this our world is the "Side-of-there", the unknown.
"The Transparents" by Ondjaki
In 2012 the Angolan writer Ondjaki, author of books like "The Whistler" and "The Secret of the Soviet", gave to the windows a new work. In "The Transparents", the author focuses the narrative in the Angolan capital, Luanda, with the specific characteristics of the post-war period.
In the work that earned Ondjaki the José Saramago Prize of 2013, we are brought as a central element a building, the Largo da Maianga. It is in this microcosm that the characters created by the author meet and disagree. Two examples of Ondjaki's inventiveness are evident in the man who initiates a process of physical transparency or that of a postman who aspires to a vehicle that spares his cheated legs. A book that combines different records, from lyrical to humorous and sarcastic, bringing us an amazing social picture.
"No Olhar", by José Luís Peixoto
In "No Look", José Luís Peixoto, author who was José Saramago Prize in 2001, invites us to visit his native Alentejo, where he was born in 1974 in the village of Galveias. In this book, edited by Quetzal, where almost extreme poverty assumes character status, Peixoto interweaves stories of men and women, hardened by hunger and work, of love, jealousy and violence.
A palette of protagonists offered us, for example, the taciturn pastor who sees his world crumble when the devil tells him that the woman deceives him; the wise old Gabriel, confidant and counselor; the Siamese twins Elijah and Moses, whose tender communion degrades the moment one of them falls in love; or the Devil himself.
A book that currently has more than 20 editions in Portugal, translated into almost thirty languages, studied in universities of different continents.
"O Retorno", by Dulce Maria Cardoso
Year, 1975. Place, Lisbon. Context, decolonization brings to Portugal more than half a million people. The "returnees", as they became known, were not received with open arms, but with suspicion and even hostility. In "O Retorno", Dulce Maria Cardoso, born in 1964 in Trás-os-Montes, brings us 15-year-old Rui, a young boy just arrived from Africa. In the book, dated 2011, edited by Tinta da China, we accompany Rui's family in a five-star hotel room stuck with other "returnees."
"Adolescence becomes a scared waiting for adulthood: learning despair and anger, relearning love, inventing hope. Africa always present but increasingly far, "we read in the recension to the work. Pages written by an author who left her native land Vera Cruz on the way to Angola and, at the age of fourteen, in Portugal, aspired to be a writer. She graduated in law, was a lawyer, without losing the guiding wire of writing.
"A Bee in the Rain", by Carlos de Oliveira
Born in 1921 in Brazil, Carlos de Oliveira, the son of Portuguese emigrants, knows Portugal at a young age, with two years. In 1953, the author, already matured, offers to the shop windows the book "A Bee in the Rain", currently edited by Assírio and Alvim. In the work, the author gives us unforgettable characters, such as Álvaro Rodrigues Silvestre and his wife, Dona Maria dos Prazeres. This in a provincial Portugal, at the dawn of the twentieth century. A narrative that focuses on the village of Montouro, in the beginning of cold and rainy autumn and with an announced return, nothing desired by the protagonists.
A book informed of a writing by an author who in 1978 received the City of Lisbon Prize. He was to die in 1981.
"The bee was caught in the rain: gusting, impulses, threads of the downpour to entangle her, blows of wind to wound her flight. Her wings fell to the ground, and a stronger cockpit trampled her. He crawled on the gravel, he still struggled, but the voration eventually took it with the dead leaves. "
"Family Ties" by Clarice Lispector
A journalist and writer of Ukrainian naturalized Brazilian origin, Clarice Lispector, prolific author of novel, essay and short stories, is in the pantheon of the greatest writers of Portuguese language of century XX.
"Family Ties", written in the 1940s and published for the first time in the 1960s in Brazil, brings together 13 short stories of the writer who, as a child, with her parents, the Jewish family, escapes the devastation caused by the civil war in her home country.
In the Portuguese edition of the Clock of Water we will find in this "Family Ties" tales such as "Daydreaming and drunkenness of a girl", "Love", "The smallest woman in the world", "Preciousness" or " "In the end, family or proximity ties can also leave us captive.
Narratives are a precious entry into the work of this author who has left us dozens of titles aimed at adults and children.
"A Man Without a Name", by João Aguiar
It is from 1986 this "A Man Without Name" of the Portuguese writer and journalist João Aguiar, book that returns us, after 34 years, a timeless narrative and a compulsive reading. The author, who died in 2010, gives us the nickname: "It was an immense desert. Its aridity spread through plains, hills and valleys that had once been fertile."
From these words, crossing a territory of epic proportions, advances this singular troubadour, a poet and adventurer who does not want to have a name. A work that brings us a changing world that can be read as an interesting allegory or, "simply", as an adventure narrative. Edited in Portugal by ASA Editions and already has 14 editions.
"The Woman Who Hooked the Rain", by Teolinda Gersão
"The Woman Who Caught the Rain" is a compilation of short stories, more precisely 14, first published in 2004 and written by Teolinda Gersão. In the work, the writer and also a teacher, born in 1940, brings us daily stories, albeit with a bridge to dreamlike, fantastic, terrible or absurd worlds. This without losing our earthly connection in this issue of the Sextant.
"I ran forward at night on the back of a maddened horse, which dragged me nowhere. There were no landmarks in the landscape, we rode in the parade, fast, faster and faster, yet without advancing in space I did not know where I was and I remembered only vaguely my name, but I did not forget yours, nor the fact that you were dead, "we read in the story" Night Horses. "
"The testament of Mr. Napumoceno da Silva Araújo", by Germano Almeida
Cape Verdean writer
In 1997 the cinema was transposed to the screen by the hand of Francisco Manso, the work published eight years before by the writer of Cape Verde, Germano Almeida, born in 1945. This was the Camões Prize in 2018, inaugurated his literary work with " The Testament of Mr. Napumoceno da Silva Araújo, "written in 1989.
In the book, Mr. Napumoceno, a Mindelo merchant, on St. Vincent's Island in Cape Verde, marries his personal reputation with business. In short, good, upright, serious, without vices and in prosperity. However, the reading of the pages of his will sheds "a new light on the life and person of the illustrious extinct".
A work published in Portugal by the publishing house Caminho and that gives us a fascinating, rich, complex and contradictory figure.
"Intermitência da Morte" by José Saramago
"The next day no one died." With this phrase José Saramago, a Portuguese author born in 1922 (died in 2010) and Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998, gives us a motto for a work that starts from a disturbing hypothesis, the absence of death.
In 2005, edited by Porto Editora, we will find an author faithful to the style that has accustomed us, biting, sarcastic, ironic and widely critical of some aspects of our society. A title where the Church, Government, Clergy, Journalism, economists, families do not escape. In short, death even when absent is everywhere.
In the present case a departure from death is temporary. At the precise moment of the plot, Death announces itself by letter sent to the newsroom of a television and we read: "From today's midnight will die again as it happened, without notorious protests … I offered a small sample of what for them would be to live forever (…) from now everyone will be prevented equally and will have a deadline of one week to update what remains in his life. "
From this passage the whole plot gains a new direction.