"The end of my childhood was the end of the Portuguese Empire." That happened almost yesterday, 1975. The girl Dulce Maria Cardoso, On the eve of turning 11, he put his life in a suitcase, abandoned his father, his home and his only homeland, Angola, and was on a plane bound for the unknown, Portugal. Thirty-six later he wrote Return.
"It was terrible, very difficult, even if it was a baby, because somehow in those ages everything is temporary," recalls Cardoso (Trás-os-Montes, 1964). "I had contradictory feelings: on the one hand I left my friends, but on the other I was going to go on a plane for the first time and I would know the metropolis, which was, according to what they told us at school, fantastic and wonderful."
The drama of the hundreds of thousands of people relocated overnight has been published in more than ten editions in Portugal since its publication in 2011. It has been translated into a dozen languages, from English to Bulgarian and, now, thanks to the editorial La Umbría y la Solana, arrives in Spanish Return. The pain of the protagonists of the novel is that of the author: "The wonderful metropolis was a poor country, gray, very backward, very different from Angola. The colors, the food, the people, everything was different. It was, first, a disappointment, and then an uncomfortable feeling to be surrounded, suddenly, by people we did not know. "
The returnees were not very welcome in their mother house either. Portugal did what it could to welcome this avalanche of Portuguese-Angolan, Portuguese-Mozambican and Portuguese-Cape Verdean. The empire had disappeared from one day to the next. To the protagonist Rui, the narrator of the novel, his mother and sister have to live in a room in a five-star hotel in Cascais, converted into a hostel for exiles. "The carnations revolution had triumphed and in that environment, we were seen as colonialists, whites who had gone there to exploit the blacks. I used to take the train from Cascais to Estoril to go to school and I remember perfectly that people told me -with 11 years old- that I would go to my land, to return to Angola to continue exploiting the blacks. The loss of the home and the way we were received was an explosive combination. "
The boy Rui moves in that chaos rebuilding his life, despite the family tear-father and uncle in Angola-and social. "In all my work, the story with a capital letter intersects with a tiny story. I chose the name of Rui for emotional reasons, a friend who lost all his brothers, murdered, and literary because it is the imperative of Portuguese ruir (disappear). There was no better name. "
A few months ago, Cardoso participated in the Guadalajara Book Fair, visited several North American universities and there proved that Return transcends the bitter memory of Angola. "The novel is an x-ray of loss; people who never heard about returnees identify with them because I think we have all gone through that sense of loss. In the universities, the Mexican students identified with the book, because they had also left the parents and their families out of necessity or obligation. The book speaks of history with a capital letter, but what excites the reader are those families that lose everything and rebuild again. "
Despite the traumatic uprooting experienced by the girl Cardoso, Return It was not his first novel. It took more than 30 years to write it. "I did not have a reflection on those historical facts. He had lived all this but did not know how to write it. All artistic activity, in my opinion, should be supported by a reflection, if not free. Who is interested in my personal experience? Finally I found my reflection on the x-ray of the loss and the resurgence. The Rui boy, despite losing everything, is able to find a love in that refuge. There is a life that runs parallel to tragedy. I am not interested in disgrace for misfortune. I am interested in redemption, the resurrection. "
The success of Return has been about to claim another victim, the same writer, who has taken seven years to write another novel, Eliete "It's hard to survive that success. I am completely in the book, it is not me but I am. How do I escape, how do I rebuild myself and start being another? "
In Eliete, published by El umbral y la Solana at the end of the year, Cardoso also writes in the first person. She is a middle-aged woman of an average family who deals with the latest news of society, from social networks to grandmother with Alzheimer's. Like in Return, There are no heroes. "In none of my novels are there. All the characters are antiheroes. I write about the limits of society, about those characters that nobody wants, those who have nothing special. The character is never a professor or a politician, they are all banal professionals. I identify more with these people. I do not know if I know them better, but they interest me more. It is not paternalism, it is an identification ".
In the normal family of Eliete the most unusual are the references to the dictator Salazar, who died half a century ago. "With the concept of a normal life Salazar convinced the Portuguese to accept the dictatorship. Inculcated a Portuguese society pobrecinha, without dreams, without risks, on his own; That concept of normal life is still rooted in the country. It did not leave us physical traces, but it did psychological, it formatted us. For the first time in a long time we will have a manifestation of support for Salazar; around us we see the rise of the extreme right and the attempts to reverse human rights. We think that we are safe, that they are conquered, but the truth is that the social body is like our body, from the 70s it begins to lose memory. We are forgetting what fascism took us and we are gladly to start the process again. Eliete it's the anatomy of the family and the challenges it faces. "