Lídia Jorge

Portrait Lídia Jorge
© Alfredo Cunha

Portuguese writer Lídia Jorge was born in Boliqueime in the Algarve region of Portugal in 1946. She grew up as an only child with her mother and predominantly female family members. The absence of male attachment figures due to emigration and a rural environment were formative for her childhood. At the University of Lisbon, Jorge studied Romance languages and literature. During the period of the Portuguese colonial war, she spent time in Angola and Mozambique with her first husband, a member of the Air Force, between 1969 and 1974, teaching in schools there – an experience she would later incorporate into her work. Upon her return to Portugal, Jorge taught at various institutions, including the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Lisbon.
Her first novel was published in 1979. »O Dia dos Prodígios« (tr: The Day of Miracles) is considered one of the foremost works of contemporary Portuguese literature to come after the Carnation Revolution. The plot, which mixes reality with fantasy, is set in an impoverished village in southern Portugal. One day, the inhabitants see a snake fly away. Shortly after, the revolutionary movement is successful in Lisbon, and the wave of events also reaches the small village, ushering in the beginning of a new era. Jorge re-evaluates colonial experiences in her novel »A Costa dos Murmúrios« (1988; Eng. »The Murmuring Coast«): a woman reflects on the time when she experienced latent violence as the wife of an officer in Mozambique at a young age. The novel »Os Memoráveis« (2014; tr: Those We Shall Remember) is a review of the revolution in Portugal and the rocky road to democracy. »Estuário« (2018; tr: Estuary) tells the story of a young man who travels on humanitarian missions and returns to his childhood home with a crippled hand to devote himself to writing. The book sheds light on the process of literary creation with its pitfalls.
In addition to her work as a columnist, Lídia Jorge also writes radio reports, children’s books, plays, and poetry. Her works have been translated into over twenty languages and have been awarded a variety of literary awards, including the Prémio Dom Dinis of the Casa de Mateus Foundation, the Prémio Bordallo of the Casa da Imprensa in Lisbon, the Prémio Máxima de Literatura, and the Jean Monnet Prize for European Literature. Since 2005, she has been Chevalier of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and in 2010 she received an honorary doctorate from the Universidade do Algarve. In 2020, she was awarded the FIL Award for Literature in Romance Languages, one of the most important literary prizes in Latin America. The jury highlighted »the originality and subtlety of her style, independence of evaluation and immense humanity«, as well as the »at times brutal realism« with which she describes »the terrible consequences of colonialism«. The author lives in Lisbon.