Germano Almeida

Cape Verde

© J.A. Salvador

 

 

Almeida was born on the island of Boavista in 1945. At the age of 18 he went to Lisbon and later studied law. He now lives in São Vicente on the Cape Verde islands and works as a lawyer. When Germano Almeida’s book O testamento do Sr. Napumoceno da Silva Araújo (“The last Will and Testament of Senhor da Silva Araújo”) was published in 1991, Portuguese critics were unanimous in their view that this was a great moment for Cape Verdean literature. Moreover, Germano Almeida is the winner of the 2018 Camões Prize for Literature, the most prestigious international award honoring the work of Portuguese language writers.

 

 

With O fiel Defunto ("The Faithful Dead"), Almeida offers a snappy satire on the cultural scene in his Cape Verde homeland. Miguel Lopes Macieira, the island's best-known and most-translated author, is shot dead by his friend Edmundo de Rosário at the launch of his first new book after years of silence. The jealous drama is centred on Matilde, thirty years younger than Macieira and loved by both men. The novel is less about solving a crime than about human relationships and how state and church want to share in the writer's popularity. Finally it is Mariza, Macieira’s former companion who had always come second to literature during his lifetime, who gets the author's will out of the safe. Around the sometimes grotesquely exaggerated events, Almeida creates a small cosmos of lovable characters with their own stories. Its language of a humorous, empathic narrative makes the novel unmistakable.

 

In his novels, Almeida unmasks the hypocrisy of public and private morality in the Republic of Cape Verde (and elsewhere). His most effective artistic tool is humour: Almeida is a master of all arts of literary comedy and his observations on society are sharpened by irony and sarcasm, puns and slap-stick-like situation comedy.

O testamento do Sr. Napumoceno da Silva Araújo is a highly witty and entertaining book telling about the life of a rich old-school macho on the Cape Verde islands. Amusingly enough, this man owes his economic and social progress to thousands of umbrellas which he once ordered by mistake. No one on the islands ever really needed an umbrella since it hardly ever rains. Fortunately though, this day the heavens were understanding and tore open just at the right moment ...

In 2004 the novel was mentioned in the London Times Literary Supplement as one of the Best Books of the Year by Pankaj Mishra:

Germano Almeida’s The last Will and Testament of Senhor da Silva Araújo introduced me to a writer of great comic gifts.

O testamento do Sr. Napumoceno da Silva Araújo is the predecessor of the great novel O meu poeta (“My Poet”). Almeida’s third novel is entitled A ilha fantástica (“The fantastic Island”) and in 1995 he published Os dois irmãos (“The two Brothers”), a gripping story about a case of fratricide.

 

In his new novel, Eva, Luís Henriques and Reinaldo, the narrator, are roaming the streets of Lisbon at night in December 2000. The occasion for their meeting is Eva. Both know her, and both know of each other from Eva’s stories. 25 years ago, she was Luís Henriques’ first love. Now he is curious to find out about this other man in her life. Is he a friend, or even a lover? The backdrop is Lisbon, from the 1960s onward to the Carnation Revolution, and the challenging life on Cape Verde against the background of more recent political developments. From a strictly Catholic bourgeois parental home, Eva moved to Lisbon to go to university, evidently exerting an irresistable charm on the male sex. Here she gets caught up in politics and meets and falls in love with Luís Henriques. After she returns to Cape Verde, she marries the candid Zé Manel without further ado, but embarks on a relationship with Reinaldo. Is it Eva, ultimately, who pulls the strings in all these relationships? The two men are faced with ever more questions and many remain unanswered when they part.

As in previous novels, Germano Almeida knows how to use a priceless story to tell the history of the Cape Verde Islands and their peoples.

 

 

 

 

Rights:

 

Novels:

O fiel Defunto, Lisbon: Caminho 2018, 328 p.

 

Regresso ao Paraíso, Lisbon Caminho 2016, 296 p.

 

Do monte cara -se o mundo, Lisbon: Caminho 2014, 432 p.

 

A morte do ouvidor, Lisbon: Caminho 2010, 382 p.

 

Eva, Lisbon: Caminho 2006, 276 p.

Cuba: Arte y Literatura 2009

 

O mar na Lajinha, Lisbon: Caminho 2004, 275 p.

 

As memórias de um espírito, Lisbon: Caminho 2001, 319 p.

 

Dona Pura e os camaradas de abril, Lisbon: Caminho 1999, 226 p.

Italy: Urogallo Spain: Cobre 2002

 

O dia das calças roladas, Lisbon: Caminho 1999, 156.p

 

A família Trago, Lisbon: Caminho 1998, 329 p.

Netherlands: De Geus 2002 Sweden: Tranan 2001

 

Os dois irmãos, Lisbon: Caminho 1995, 238 p.

Cuba: Arte y Literatura 2005 German: WDR 2008 (audio drama) Italy: Nuova Frontiera 2005 Spain: Bronce 2002

 

A ilha fantástica, Lisbon: Caminho 1994, 223 p.

Spain: Cobre 2003

 

O meu poeta, Ilhéu 1989, Lisbon: Caminho 1992, 349 p.

Film rights sold

 

O testamento do Sr. Napumoceno da Silva Araújo, Lisbon: Caminho 1991, 167 p.

Film version 1996, Prize as “Best Film”, August 1997, at Brazil’s most important film festival in Gramado

Brazil: Companhia das Letras 1996 Bulgaria: Five Plus 2009 Colombia: Uniandes Denmark:Husets 2002 France: Sepia 1995 Italy: AIEP 1996 German: Fischer 1997, Unionsverlag 2014 Netherlands: De Geus 2000 Norway: Cappelen 2001 Spain: Bronce 2000; Txalaparta (Basque Country) Sweden: Tranan 1999 US: New Directions 2004

 

 

Stories:

Estórias contadas, Lisbon: Caminho 1998, 250 p.

 

Estórias de dentro de casa, Lisbon: Caminho 1996, 205 p.

Spain: Txalaparta 2003

 

 

Short prose:

Cabo Verde. Viagem pela história das ilhas, Lisbon: Caminho 2003, 273 p.

 

Participation in anthologies:

Germany: Wagenbach 2010