Lídia Jorge wins Médicis Étranger Prize with novel “Misericordia”

Algarvia is the first Portuguese-language author distinguished with the award

The novel “Misericordia” (2022), by Algarve writer Lídia Jorge, won the Médicis Étranger Prize, alongside the novel “Impossibles Adieux”, by South Korean Han Kang, the jury announced.

Lídia Jorge is the first Portuguese-language author distinguished with the award, created in France in 1970, according to Publicações D. Quixote, which publishes the Portuguese writer.

The prize, which, for the first time, was awarded to the Italian Luigi Malerba, has already distinguished, among others, authors such as Milan Kundera, Julio Cortázar, Doris Lessing, Umberto Eco, Elsa Morante, Antonio Tabucchi, Philip Roth, Orhan Pamuk, Antonio Muñoz Molina and David Grossman.

“Misericórdia” was translated into French by Elisabeth Monteiro Rodrigues, and published by Métailié.

The novel was distinguished, last Wednesday, with the Fernando Namora Prize, unanimously, after having already won the Grand Prize for Romance and Novel of the Portuguese Writers Association, and the Urbano Tavares Rodrigues, PEN Clube Português and the for Best Lusophone Book published in France.

“Misericordia” was written by Lídia Jorge when her mother, admitted to an institution for the elderly in the Algarve, asked her several times to write a book with this title.

The story takes place between April 2019 and April 2020, the date of the death of the author's mother, who was one of the first victims of Covid-19 in the south of the country.

“My mother asked me several times to write a book called 'Mercy', because she thought there was a misunderstanding in the treatment of people, she thought that people tried to be loved, but didn't understand them. She asked me to write a book called 'mercy', so that we would have compassion for people and treat them as if they were people in the fullness of life”, revealed the author in an interview with the Lusa agency, when the novel was published.

According to the writer, this is not a “morbid” book and its writing did not evoke feelings of sadness or pain in her. Rather, it is a “book about the splendor of life that happens when people are about to leave”, about the “magnificent acts of resistance that people have at the end of life”.

According to the writer's Portuguese publisher, “Misericordia” has “already sold publishing rights to Spain (La Umbria and La Solana), Germany (Secession), Colombia (Tragaluz) and Mexico (Elefanta), with publication during the International Fair of Livro de Guadalajara, which takes place from November 25th to December 3rd, for which Lídia Jorge is one of the invited writers.

The other novel with which Lídia Jorge shares the Médicis Étranger, “Impossibles Adieux” (“Goodbye Impossibles”), by Han Kang, will be published in Portugal next year, says the publisher of the LeYa group.

The Médicis Prize jury was chaired by Anne F. Garréta and composed of Marianne Alphant, Michel Braudeau, Marie Darrieussecq, Dominique Fernandez, Patrick Grainville, Frédéric Mitterrand, Andreï Makine, Pascale Roze and Alain Veinstein.

In 2019, the writer was a finalist for the Médicis Prize with the novel “Estuário”.

Last April, Lídia Jorge was awarded the APE Literary Life Prize and, in September, the Eduardo Lourenço Career Prize.

Lídia Jorge made her debut with the publication of “O Dia dos Prodígios” (1980). Since then she has published novels, short stories, essays, plays, chronicles and poetry. Her narratives have been adapted for theater, television and cinema.

Among other awards, Lídia Jorge received the Correntes d'Escritas, in 2004, the Albatros Prize, from the Günter Grass Foundation, in 2006, and the FIL Prize for Literature in Romance Languages, from the Guadalajara Book Fair, in Mexico, in 2020.

Last year the winner of the Médicis Étranger Prize was the Ukrainian Andreï Kourkov's novel “Grey Bees”.

Today the winners of the Médicis Essay Prize were also announced, Laure Murat for the work “Proust, roman familial” (“Proust, a family romance”), and Canadian Kevin Lambert won the Médicis da Francophonie, with “Que notre joie remaine” (“May Our Joy Remain”).