Project Description

European Union Prize 2009Dulce Maria Cardoso


Dulce Maria Cardoso, born in Trás-os-Montes in 1964, is one of the most important literary voices in Portugal. She spent her childhood in Angola and returned to Portugal in 1975, shortly after Portugal’s Carnation Revolution and Angola’s independence. She studied law, worked as a lawyer and wrote scripts for the cinema. The author has received numerous prizes for her literary work, such as the European Union Prize for Literature 2009 for MY SENTIMENTS and the Portuguese PEN Prize 2011 for O CHÃO DOS PARDAIS.

THE RETURN was awarded the Special Prize of the Critics 2011 in Portugal, and was selected as Book of the Year 2011. It has also been voted as number 4 of the 10 favourite books 2014 of the French financial newspaper Les Échos. With ELIETE – A NORMAL LIFE Dulce Maria Cardoso wins the second place of the Oceanos Prize 2019 with her novel. The prize consists of 80.000 R$ (approx. 17.270,00 €).

Dulce Maria Cardoso© Tiago Miranda


Unauthorised Autobiography 2

“Perhaps it would have been better to start by talking about the decision to use myself as a character: given that, in a newspaper column, the author is expected to be more openly present, this would be the place where I would try not to run away from myself. I know it was risky: I’ve lived extraordinary stories, I’ve been involved in terrible situations, I too would go mad if I wanted to. Perhaps it wasn’t wise to venture into myself. That’s why the autobiography is unauthorised. I would write my biography by default. The illicit act unmasked in the unauthorised one concerned me alone. I never thought it could be any other way.
Of course, in talking about myself, I would also be talking about those who are or have been with me, those who are or have passed by me. I’m not alone, I’ve never been alone, I don’t know how to be alone. I don’t want to be alone. The others would be safe in my columns, I would be the only one in danger: shattering myself in my memory. I don’t know how to write about what I don’t love. To write is to discover, to know. And to know, if not to love, is at least to be willing to love. To be willing to love ignoble things, sometimes. Which is also frightening. Those I don’t love will never have a place in what I write. What I write is illuminated by those I love, they are the ones who write what I write. Or to put it another way, I am the ones I love, they are the ones who write me.”
– D.M.C

This book is the sequel of the author’s much-celebrated columns published in Visão magazine.


Unauthorised Autobiography

Unauthorised Autobiography (“Autobiografia não Autorizada”), which brings together her much-celebrated literary columns published in the newspaper Visão, is of unparalleled intimacy in the author’s work: personal, autobiographical, transparent, and so purified that they become universal, Dulce Maria Cardoso’s columns make room for each of us. Like an armchair that is “moulded, day after day, by the weight of a body, becoming its nest”.
“An autobiography is an impossible mission. I ought to write a rigorous text, but I am always a character of my own self, even if I narrate everything in the first person and call myself Dulce, as if I were not inventing myself. To write is to think slowly. Slowness leavens or germinates as much as it withers or rots. And then there is the other side: you, the ones who are there. As a reader of fiction I inevitably seek the author in his text. What truth does the author hide in the lie he tells? An autobiography works somewhat the other way round: what lie does the author hide in the truth he reveals?”


Eliete – A Normal Life

Eliete is a normal woman in her early forties. There is hardly anything extraordinary about her life, and yet she enthrals us with her desire to live, and to understand people and things.

Her daughters are mostly on the internet and abroad; her husband is easier to meet on Facebook rather than at home. Who cares if Eliete, who feels strongly that her youth is gone, allows herself some escapades on a dating site? She would like to reignite her relationship with her husband, but he doesn’t seem interested. Eliete stays cool and doesn’t despair. Then suddenly she finds someone and something different – an inkling of love? Does Duarte love her like a hero in one of the photo-comic teenage magazines of her childhood? And what on earth does it mean when her dementia-suffering grandmother says that Portugal’s dictator is part of her family story?

Is normal life an everyday drama? It probably is, but still you can laugh at most of it. Written in precise language, Cardoso creates a multifaceted character of great strength. Ironic, but by no means distanced, Eliete – A Normal Life (“Eliete – A vida normal”) reflects on an apparently ordinary life against the background of a three-generation story of the 20th and 21st century in Portugal, in Europe.


Eliete – A Normal Life


The Return

The Return (“O retorno”) tells the captivating story of fifteen-year-old Rui, whose family, like a hundred thousand other whites, has to leave Angola after independence from Portugal is declared. For the first time, Rui touches the ground of the “metropolis”, as his mother has always referred to Lisbon in a tone of longing. In this unexpectedly run-down city, Rui not only struggles with the uncertain fate of his father, who stayed behind, but also with finding his place in hostile surroundings. In a personal and clear way, Cardoso describes a crucial moment in Portugal’s history and tells a story that could have happened to so many returners elsewhere in the world. The novel has been voted as number 4 of the 10 favourite books 2014 of the French financial newspaper Les Échos.


The Return


Violeta among the Stars

Her second novel, Violeta among the Stars (“Os Meus Sentimentos”), revolves around Violeta, a middle-aged woman who earns her living as a sales representative for hair removal products. At the very beginning of the novel Violeta suffers a heavy car crash. Until the end the reader can’t be sure whether she has survived or not. Her subconscience, however, lives on and scenes of the past start moving before her inner eye, overlapping each other and getting mixed up with events just before the accident. Her French-speaking mother, who has a beauty ideal that Violeta could never live up to with her unshapely big body, reappears, as well as her father, who was denounced by his illegitimate son during the Carnation revolution. Violeta also remembers the difficult discussions she had with her daughter Dora, who was idolized and spoilt by her grandparents for being so different from her mother. Having been freed from the burden of her own existence, Violeta, who was often called a scarecrow by people on the street due to her conspicuous presentation, now takes a sharp look behind the façade of her fellow human beings.

Violeta among the Stars captivates the reader by the exceptional narrative talent of Dulce Maria Cardoso and her poetic and precise language. With empathy rather than sentimentality she creates lively characters and draws an unsparing portrait of today’s society.


Violeta among the Stars


Field of Blood

Field of Blood (“Campo de sangue”) is Cardoso’s first novel, for which she received the Grande Prémio Acontece. Four women who have nothing to say to one another wait nervously in the dim light of an inhospitable room. Four women, all of whom have a special relationship with a man who just committed a murder: his mother, his landlady, his ex-wife and a young girl who is expecting a child from him. The events unfurl in the form of flash-backs in which the relationships of the individual women to each other are highlighted. The narrative returns repeatedly to the point of departure. Except for Eva, the murderer’s ex-wife, no one in this unusual and profound novel has a name. The man and Eva, who both come from poor families, separated six years ago. Although Eva married a rich man immediately afterwards, they continue to meet as lovers. As his wife, Eva used to work to keep them both, and now as his ex-wife she continues to finance him with her new husband’s money B out of exaggerated, almost demented love, it is said. One day the man murders a woman he does not know by stabbing her several times in the chest, explaining afterwards that she was his girlfriend and that he wanted her heart. Beauty and loneliness can cause a person to lose their mind.

In an objective and yet poetic language, Dulce Maria Cardoso describes a world of hopelessness and repressed feelings in which everything is a deceptive game in the search for a truth that does not exist.



Book of the year 2011 – Spezial Prize of the Critics (Portugal)
The Return

Portuguese PEN Club Prize 2010
Ciranda Prize 2010
The Ground of the Sparrows

European Union Prize for Literature 2009
Violeta among the Stars

Grande Prémio Acontece de Romance 2009
Field of Blood

Dulce Maria Cardoso is Chevalier of the French Order of Arts and Letters


Why don’t we do something happy? (“Porque é que não fazemos uma coisa feliz?”)
Lisbon: Tinta da China
France: Chandeigne · Spain: Seix Barral

Eliete – A Normal Life (“Eliete – A Vida Normal”)
Lisbon: Tinta da China 2018, 285 p.
2° Oceanos Prize 2019
English sample translation available:
Brazil: Todavia 2022 · Catalan: Bromera 2021 · Czech Republic: Bourdon 2022 · Egypt: Bait El Yasmin (Arabic world rights) · France: Chandeigne 2020 · German: Secession 2023 · Italy: Voland 2020 · Spain: Seix Barral 2020 · Slovakia: Portugalsky · UK: MacLehose Press forthcoming March 2024

The Return (“O Retorno”)
Lisbon: Tinta da China 2011, 272 p.
English PEN Translates Award 2016
Selected among 10 of the best books set in Portugal by The Guardian, 2020
Book of the Year in Portugal, Special Prize of the Critics 2011
Albania: Fjala 2015 · Brazil: Tinta da China 2012, Todavia Editora · Colombia: Tragaluz 2015 · Croatia: Bozicevic 2016 · Egypt: Bait El Yasmin (Arabic world rights) · France: Stock 2014 · German: Secession 2021 · Greece: Kastaniotis 2017 · Italy: Voland 2013 · Macedonia: Antolog 2014 · Peru: Código Placebo (Peru only) · Serbia: Geopoetika 2015 · Slovakia: Portugalsky 2020 · Slovenia: Cankarjeva Zalozba 2014 · Spain: Libros de la Umbría y la Solana 2018 · Sweden: Tranan 2022 · UK: MacLehose Press 2016, pb 2017

The Ground of the Sparrows (“O Chão dos Pardais”)
Lisbon: Asa 2009, 224 p.
Portuguese PEN Club Prize 2010, Ciranda Prize 2010
Dutch translation available
Italy: Voland 2011 · The Netherlands: Prominent 2016

Violeta among the Stars (“Os Meus Sentimentos”)
Lisbon: Asa 2005, 352 p.
European Union Prize for Literature 2009
Albania: Dudaj · Bosnia-Herzegovina: Buybook 2022 · Brazil: Todavia Editora · Bulgaria: Ergo Books 2011 · Chile, Mexico, Colombia: Tragaluz 2016 · Croatia: Disput 2011 · France: L’esprit des Peninsules 2005 · Greece: Nisos 2011· Italy: Voland 2007 · Macedonia: Antolog · The Netherlands: Meulenhoff 2009, pb 2011 · Serbia: Booka 2011 · Spain: Libros de la Umbría y la Solana· UK: MacLehose Press 2021

Field of Blood (“Campo de Sangue”)
Lisbon: Asa 2002, 288 p.
Grande Prémio Acontece de Romance 2002
Argentina: Adriana Hidalgo 2005 · Brazil: Companhia das Letras 2005 (avail.) · France: Phébus 2002 · Italy: Voland 2002 · Spain: El Gall 2006 (Catalan)

Everything Is a Love Story (“Tudo São Histórias de Amor”)
Lisbon: Tinta da China 2014, 161 p.
Argentina, Colombia: Tragaluz Editores 2019, 2020² · Bulgaria: Ergo Publishing · Italy: Voland 2017 · Spain: Libros de la Umbría y la Solana 2020

Even Us (“Até Nós”)
Lisbon: Asa 2008, 144 p.

Unauthorised Autobiography 2 (“Autobiografia não Autorizada 2”)
Lisbon: Tinta da China 2023, 248 p.

Unauthorised Autobiography (“Autobiografia não Autorizada”)
Lisbon: Tinta da China 2021, 232 p.
Semifinalist of the Oceanos Prize 2022

Lôá and the Night Before the First Day (“Lôá e a Vêspera do Primeiro Dia”)
Lisbon: Tinta da China 2014, 51 p.

Lôá Lost in Paradise (“Lôá Perdida no Paraíso”)
(Ill. by Vera Tavares)
Lisbon: Tinta da China 2014, 51 p.

Lôá’s Bible (“A Bíblia de Lôá”)
(Consists of Lôá and the Night Before the First Day, Lôá Lost in Paradise,
Lôá e a Multidão a Caminho, Lôá e o Arco-Íris Rasgado,
Lôá Quer Voltar para Casa, Lôá, a Fronteira que Divide e a Fronteira que Une)
Film rights under option for GEM s.r.l., Italy
Italy: Mesogea 2016

Crónicas lusófonas. Portugiesische Chroniken
(Ed.: Luisa Costa-Hölzl)
(“A Última Sessão”)
Germany: dtv 2022