Project Description

Océanos PrizeDjaimilia Pereira de Almeida

Portugal

Djaimilia Pereira de Almeida was born in Angola in 1982 and grew up in Portugal. Her genre-defying work is devoted to find ways of addressing the predicament of being an individual. She holds a PhD in Literary Theory from the University of Lisbon and was finalist of the 8th Cycle of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. She is a 2018 recipient of a National Grant for Writing, awarded by the Portuguese Ministry of Culture, and has been awarded several prizes and distinctions, including the Inês de Castro Foundation Literary Prize 2018, the Oceanos Prize 2019, and the Eça de Queiroz Foundation Award 2019.

For more information, visit the author’s website: > djaimilia.com

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© Humberto Brito

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Seaquake

In her new novel Seaquake (“Maremoto”) the author deals with existential questions of humanity such as transience, guilt, and memory, but also the need for closeness and affection. The main character is an Angolan named Boa Morte (Good Death), who fought against the liberation movement in the Portuguese colonial war and burdened himself with guilt. But he can never escape the guilt, nor can the country that reluctantly gave him his citizenship but nothing else. Now he lives as a parking space attendant in Lisbon and tries to preserve a bit of humanity despite his precarious situation. He takes care of a stray dog and a young homeless woman who lives at a tram stop and, at times, in her own world. More than anything else, writing a long letter to his daughter Aurora, who he barely knows, keeps him alive. But he is sick, and the end is inevitable. So he waits for a seaquake that will cause a great tidal wave swallowing everything. One day, Boa Morte does indeed disappear into the sea of people at a metro station.

With empathy and clarity, in a simple, oral, but at the same time often poetic language, de Almeida creates in Seaquake the image of a man who struggles with himself at the end of his life. And who, in his daily struggle for survival, finds a little dignity and a conciliatory end in his love for his daughter and for the marginalized creatures, like himself, around him.

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Vision of the Plants

In Vision of the Plants (“A Visão das Plantas”), the author tells the story of the old captain Celestino, once a pirate and slave trader, who, after an eventful life, returns to his parents’ abandoned house in the Douro region. There, Celestino, who is said to have committed terrible crimes, is transformed into a devoted gardener. Under his care plants flourish, and he grows the most beautiful carnations. He prefers plants to people: their gaze does not judge, unlike the accusing eyes of Father Alfredo, who tries to persuade the old man to confess his sins. But Celestino does not give in. He remains alone with his demons until his world falls further and further apart, and he gradually slips into oblivion. Pereira de Almeida’s touching novel does not ask for guilt and atonement, but seeks in poetic words an image for inner peace, for reconciliation with oblivion and death.

Quotes

Vision of the Plants

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Luanda, Lisbon, Paradise

In Luanda, Lisbon, Paradise (“Luanda, Lisboa, Paraíso”), Djaimilia Pereira de Almeida tells a migration story that ends ups in the poor suburb Paraíso. In 1985, the Angolan Cartola travels to Portugal with his son Aquiles to have surgery finally performed on the teenager’s deformed heel bone. Further operations become necessary, the money is soon used up, and Cartola begins working as a day labourer on a construction site. Time passes, first months, then years. Returning to his wife Glória, who is ill and bedridden, slips ever further into the distance. Only letters and rare telephone calls keep the connection alive. After five years Cartola and Aquiles move to the suburb of Paraíso, which proves to be anything but paradise. But they make friends, above all with the innkeeper Pepe, and despite all adversity they never completely give up hope. In poetic yet sober language, the novel looks for the condition of the diaspora, focussing on the touching balance of three simple lives. Hope and pessimism, waste and redemption appear side by side in a sequence of dark, sweet and tragic elements, making this novel so human and touching.

Quotes

Luanda, Lisbon, Paradise

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That Hair

Mila is the Luanda-born daughter of a black Angolan mother and a white Portuguese father. She arrives in Lisbon at the tender age of three, and feels like an outsider from the jump. Through the lens of young Mila’s indomitably curly hair, her story interweaves memories of childhood and adolescence, family lore spanning four generations, and present-day reflections on the internal and external tensions of a European and African identity. In layered, intricately constructed prose, That Hair enriches and deepens a global conversation, challenging in necessary ways our understanding of racism, feminism, and the double inheritance of colonialism, not yet fifty years removed from Angola’s independence. It’s the story of coming of age as a black woman in a nation at the edge of Europe that is also rapidly changing.

Quotes

That Hair

RIGHTS

NOVELS
Seaquake (“Maremoto”)
Lisbon: Relógio D’Água 2021, 112 p.,

Vision of the Plants (“A Visão das Plantas”)
Lisbon: Relógio D’Água 2019, 96 p., São Paulo: Todavia, forthcoming 2021 
Finalista do prémio Pen Clube Narrativa 2020
Finalist of the Grande Prémio de Romance e Novela APE/DGLAB 2020
Second Place of the Oceanos Prize 2020
Argentina: Edhasa · German: Unionsverlag

The Telephones (“As Telefones”)
Lisbon: Relógio D’Água 2020, 102 p.

Luanda, Lisbon, Paradise (“Luanda, Lisboa, Paraíso”)
Lisbon: Companhia das Letras 2018, 232 p.; São Paulo: Companhia das Letras 2019
Oceanos Prize 2019
Eça de Queiroz Foundation Literary Prize 2019
Inês de Castro Foundation Literary Prize 2018
Finalist of the Grande Prémio de Romance e Novela APE 2018
Finalist of the PEN Club Narrative Prize 2018
China: Sichuan Literature & Art· German: Unionsverlag· Slovakia: Portugalsky

That Hair (“Esse Cabelo”)
Alfragide: Teorema (LeYa) 2015; Rio de Janeiro: LeYa 2017; Lisbon: Relógio D’Água 2020, 150 p., São Paulo: Todavia, forthcoming 2022
Novos Literatura Prize 2016
Argentina: Edhasa · Denmark: Aurora Boreal · Italy: La Nuova Frontiera· Spain: Lletra Impresa Edicions (Catalan rights)· USA: Tin House Books 2020

ESSAYS
Rules of Isolation (“Regras de Isolamento”)
(together with Humberto Brito)
Lisbon: Fundação Francisco Manuel dos Santos 2020, 184 p.

Painted with the Foot (“Pintado com o Pé”)
Lisbon: Relógio D’Água 2019, 242 p.

Helping to Fall (“Ajudar a cair”)
Lisbon: Fundação Francisco Manuel dos Santos 2017, 104 p.