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Ondjaki wins Vergílio Ferreira Literary Prize 2023

The Angolan writer Ondjaki won the 2023 Vergílio Ferreira Prize from the University of Évora (UÉ), due to his contribution to making Portuguese “a language of reconciliation” and “of critical awareness”, revealed the Portuguese academy.


In a statement sent to the Lusa agency, the UÉ announced that the jury, meeting this Wednesday, unanimously decided to award this distinction to Ondjaki, “a writer, bookseller and artist from different disciplines”.

The jury, in its assessment, highlighted “the contribution that Ondjaki makes for the Portuguese language to be a language of reconciliation and even of critical awareness for all Portuguese speakers”, added UÉ.

Established by the UÉ in 1996, to honor the writer who gives it its name, the Literary Prize Vergílio Ferreira is intended to annually award the literary work of a relevant Portuguese-speaking author in the fields of fiction and/or essay.

As in previous editions, the award ceremony for the 2023 edition is scheduled for March 1, the date that marks the anniversary of the death of Vergílio Ferreira (1916-1996), patron of the award and author of "Aparição".

Ondjaki is the literary pseudonym of Ndalu de Almeida, who was born in Luanda in 1977 and studied Sociology at the University of Lisbon.

His works, evoked the UÉ, include poems, such as "Actu sanguíneu", short stories, namely "Momentos de aqui", children's books, such as "The bicycle that had mustaches", or novels, namely "How many dawns has the night" and "Good morning, comrades".

The winner of this edition of the award "also writes plays and film scripts", added UÉ.

In 2020, the 20th anniversary of Ondjaki's literary debut took place, starting with the poetry book "Actu Sanguineu", and, throughout his career, he has already received several distinctions.

The Sagrada Esperança, 2004, in Angola, António Paulouro, 2005, in Portugal, the Camilo Castelo Branco Short Story Grand Prize, in 2007, and the Grinzane for Africa 2008, in the category of best young author, were some of the awards he received, to which is added the José Saramago Literary Prize (2013), for his novel "Os Transparentes".

"His books by him have been translated into French, Italian, German, English, Serbian, Polish and Swedish", said UÉ, noting that "in Umbundu, one of the Angolan national languages, Ondjaki means 'warrior'".

The jury for this edition of the Vergílio Ferreira Prize was chaired by UÉ professor Antonio Sáez Delgado, also comprising university professors Eunice Ribeiro, Fátima Freitas Morna and Elisa Nunes Esteves and literary critic Miguel Filipe Mochila.

This award established by the UÉ was awarded, for the first time, to Maria Velho da Costa, followed by Maria Judite de Carvalho, Mia Couto, Almeida Faria, Eduardo Lourenço, Óscar Lopes, Vítor Manuel de Aguiar e Silva, Agustina Bessa-Luís and Manuel Gusmao.

Fernando Guimarães, Vasco Graça Moura, Mário Cláudio, Mário de Carvalho, Luísa Dacosta, Maria Alzira Seixo, José Gil, Hélia Correia, Ofélia Paiva Monteiro, Lídia Jorge, João de Melo, Teolinda Gersão, Gonçalo M. Tavares, Nélida Piñon, Carlos Reis, Ana Luísa Amaral and Helena Carvalhão Buescu were the other winners.

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