Project Description

Océanos PrizeLuís Cardoso

East Timor

Luís Cardoso, born in Cailaco, East Timor, studied forestry in Portugal, where he currently lives and works. He has written the first book to emerge from a first generation of post-colonial Timorese authors living, working, and waiting in the diaspora for their country to be free. With THE PUMPKIN PLANTER (SONATA FOR A FOG) Luís Cardoso wins the first place of the Oceanos Prize 2021.

Luís Cardoso© Maria Campos


The Pumpkin Planter

Can the most enchanting of sounds narrate disenchantment? With his novel The Pumpkin Planter (Sonata for a Fog) (“O Plantador de Abóboras (Sonata para uma Neblina)”), Luís Cardoso seems to prove that the intersecting voices of the narratives are like a Swiss army knife, offering in any given moment the exact tool to open whatever is hidden in a painting, in a character’s name, in a figure or historical moment.
A woman waits and paints and therefore thinks. Through her are passing episodes, possibilities, failures, memories, ancestors, animals, countries, men, history. And what remains with her of all this? The woman does not simply collect, but seeks the underlying construction of these gestures. Of a house, for example. And of love, after all and always the greatest of stories. To say what happens in these pages risks reducing the very humanity that the author makes happen. At each step we are moved, we laugh and we reflect.
Timor, that mythical setting, will never be the same again after this journey where the concrete and the mythical, Sancho Panza and Chibanga, the roses and the coffee, the horse and the goose, the colonial empire and the Orient are called on stage to narrate the ways of making the world. Can we be the masters of our seeds? Can the world be a pumpkin?


The Pumpkin Planter


Where Do Cats Go When They Die? A Biblical Parable

“I have just arrived on the island where I lived during my childhood, looking for someone.”
The return to Ataúro, land of childhood, “land of never”, is the beginning of this new voyage in reverse by Luís Cardoso; a fast, poetic and emotional novel that traverses the childhood and formative years of the narrator, the diaspora, the struggles, the disillusions, the betrayals, the losses, and the return, meanwhile encountering a host of extraordinary characters. A journey that, of course, runs alongside the history of East Timor, with the fantasy and irony that have always marked the author’s voice and make us sigh for those mysterious lands of terrifying beauty.


Where Do Cats Go When They Die?


The Last Death of Colonel Santiago

The writer Lucas in The Last Death of Colonel Santiago (“A Última Morte do Coronel Santiago”), left the island a long time ago and lives in Portugal. However, when he travels to his country, he is caught up by the past, since the crimes committed by his ancestors towards the Timorensians have not yet been avenged. Present and past are closely intertwined in this novel, which deals with love, death and the search for the roots of human beings.


Owl Eyes – Cat Eyes

Cardoso’s second novel Owl Eyes – Cat Eyes (“Olhos de Coruja – Olhos de Gato Bravo”) is mainly set in the period of Portuguese colonisation, and highlights the explosive consequences which the “Carnation Revolution” in Portugal had for the small, far-away colony. The novel is imbued with the myths and fables of Timor, to which Luis Cardoso has lent poetic expression.



In 1999, after 24 years of annexation by Indonesia, East Timor opted for independence. Prior to that, until 1975, the country was a Portuguese colony.

Crossing (“Crónica de uma Travessia”) reads like a colonial bildungsroman, but is in fact an autobiographical memoir of childhood and growing up in Timor, and subsequent exile in Lisbon. This particular work sheds light on a little known country over an important, nation-forming period of its history and  it portrays a territory that, whatever the weaknesses of the colonial system, was plugged into a Portuguese-speaking cultural world at the time of the events of 1975: from Salazar’s deportees who ended up in Timor, to soldiers from Mozambique and missionaries trained in Macau, to Chinese traders and returning Timorese students from Portugal, all make their appearance or are alluded to in this memory of a land under hostile occupation.




Several titles represented for Dom Quixote, Portugal
Original editions and rights sold:

The Pumpkin Planter (Sonata for a Fog)
(“O Plantador de Abóboras (Sonata para uma Neblina)”)
English sample translation available
Lisbon: Abysmo 2020. 182 p.
Winner of the Oceanos Prize 2021
Brazil: Todavia 2022 · Colombia, Argentina, Mexico: Tragaluz 2022

Where Do Cats Go When They Die? A Biblical Parable
(“Para onde Vão os Gatos quando Morrem? Uma Parábola Bíblica”)
Lisbon: Sextante 2017, 272 p.

The Year Pigafetta Completed His Circumnavigation
(“O Ano em que Pigafetta Completou a Circum-Navegação”)
French sample translation available

Lisbon: Sextante 2012, 256 p.
Italy: Urogallo 2018 · Spain: Armaenia

Requiem for a Solitary Navigator
(“Requiem para um Navegador Solitário”)
Lisbon: Dom Quixote 2007, 244 p.
Italy: Urogallo 2010

The Last Death of Colonel Santiago (“A Última Morte do Coronel Santiago”)
Lisbon: Dom Quixote 2003, 293 p.

Sweden: Tranan 2006

Owl Eyes – Cat Eyes (“Olhos de Coruja, Olhos de Gato Bravo”)
Lisbon: Dom Quixote 2001, 159 p.

Sweden: Tranan 2003

Crossing (“Crónica de uma Travessia”)
Lisbon: Dom Quixote 1997, 154 p.

France: Métailié 2000 · Germany: Aufbau 2001 · Greece: Vakxikon · Italy: Feltrinelli Traveller 2002 · The Netherlands: Arbeiderspers 2004 · Sweden: Tranan 2002 · UK: Granta 2000 · USA: Granta 2002