Romance by Judite Canha Fernandes wins Agustina Bessa-Luís Prize

Judith Canha Fernandes’s novel ‘A Step to the South’ won by a majority the Agustina Bessa-Luís / Revelation Literary Prize / 2018, Estoril-Sol announced today.

The prize, created in 2008 in a partnership between Estoril-Sol and publisher Gradiva, is endowed with a monetary value of ten thousand euros and provides for the publication of the distinguished novel.

The jury, presided over by Guilherme d’Oliveira Martins, considered “A Step to the South” a novel with a “deeper human and social reach”, “founded on a geographical and existential triangle, spread over Cape Verde, São Tomé and the Azores “, according to Estoril-Sol statement.

“Creole’s linguistic and imaginative registers creatively enter into the overall structure of the narrative, contributing to the shaping of a very stimulating literary language,” says the jury, which emphasized the fact that it is “a romance in which love, but also the terrible violence exercised over women, constitute the master traces of the existential universe of the characters. ”

“If the end of this novel suggests a future of hope and luminosity, it does not forget the psychological forcefulness of the structure and that harasses us in its deepest human and social reach,” said the jury, according to the same text.

Judite Canha Fernandes was born in Funchal and, at age eight, went to live in Ponta Delgada, where she grew up. According to a statement from Estoril-Sol, “she is a writer, performer, feminist, librarian, activist, mother, researcher, without any special order.”

The writer, who has held several conferences and lectures in various countries, represented Europe in the International Committee of the World March of Women between 2010 and 2016.

Judith Canha Fernandes said: “In 2015 I made the radical decision to dedicate myself completely to writing. It was a decision that had been postponed since childhood, which I had the courage to do. to take at that moment, for a balance of personal circumstances and will. ”

“I’ve said since childhood because since I started to read, not only did I start reading a lot, in every little bit I had, but I knew I wanted ‘that,'” he said.

It was through reading that “I became a novelist,” said the author, who considered it a “radical” decision to dedicate herself full-time to writing.

“Dedicating me to a job where it is difficult to survive financially unless you have the privilege of financial freedom or wealth, is a radical decision.”

He said that outside of his work area, the “remaining time was devoted to activism,” and “writing requires time.”

“The beginning of this process was to reopen ten years of notebooks, to re-read what he had been writing and to try to understand what eventually had the form of a book. In this process, the first things that came up, more ready, were poetry, that somehow is a literary language that arises most naturally “to the author, he said. “One of the first books I wrote in this period was ‘Caderno de música’, which I did not publish.”

“This book is precisely an exercise in my long and deep indecision, also by a need to play with it, to provoke myself.”

As for fiction, he said: “I felt that it was an area of experimentation that I wanted very much to develop and that there is in the fiction, for me, a more conscious, but structured, a process than in poetry. I had a few sketches of short stories. I wanted to work first the short story, and gradually I extended this dimension, in the sense of a practice that gradually approached me of more complex structures ”

Judite Canha Fernandes also intended “the necessary breathing” so that a more complex story could be constructed, “to be able to see details, to let characters become known until they could live with them for the time the novel was written.”

‘A Step to the South’ has emerged as part of this process. “I had a lusofonia bag that supported me in the creation and allowed me to go back to Cape Verde, where I lived and where part of the novel is going to happen. It is my first novel. It is a good story, it was wonderful, “he said.

The jury, in addition to Guilherme d’Oliveira Martins, representing the National Center for Culture, was composed by José Manuel Mendes, Portuguese Writers Association, Maria Carlos Loureiro, Manuel Frias Martins, General Directorate of Books, Archives and Libraries, by the Portuguese Association of Literary Critics, and by Maria Alzira Seixo and Liberto Cruz, invited individually, and Nuno Lima de Carvalho and Dinis de Abreu, representing Estoril-Sol.

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