Portuguese Author and Editor Francisco José Viegas Recommends 5 Classic Portuguese Novels
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Francisco José Viegas is a Renaissance man. He founded LER, the Portuguese literary magazine, ran the Fernando Pessoa House, was Secretary of State for Culture from 2011 to 2012, and is editor-in-chief of one of the most prestigious Portuguese publishing houses, Quetzal Editores, where he publishes authors such as Kingsley and Martin Amis, Julian Barnes, Saul Bellow, Thomas Bernhard, Roberto Bolaño, Jorge Luis Borges, Claudio Magris, and Mario Vargas Llosa. He also brought into existence an iconic detective called Jaime Ramos, an inspector with the Porto criminal police who travels the world, primarily to former Portuguese colonies including Brazil, Angola and Mozambique, solving mysteries. He describes his detective as such:
...he lives in one of the most popular districts of the city, right next to Campanhã train station. He lives in a small apartment, books scattered all over the place. He reads them in the winter, because Jaime Ramos only reads in the wintertime. He never feels like reading in the summer. Apart from that, he enjoys fine food and drink, though he isn't a gourmet. Far from it. He enjoys food and he cooks. He smokes cigars. He took to smoking them when cigarette vending machines arrived. At that point, he opted for a change of tactic, because he isn't one to mingle. Not even with cigarette vending machines.
Viegas' Jaime Ramos books have been translated into Italian, German, French, and Czech among other languages, although unfortunately not into English...yet. A Brazilian company has optioned for film the novel in which Inspector Ramos goes to Mozambique.
Viegas, who is from the Douro valley in Portugal, like Jaime Ramos, loves to cook, (he has published a cookbook) and said that when he "cooks, eats or drinks, I become my character."
His characters are all "losers. They are living in the past. They are so pessimistic that they are comical. My greatest joy is when people talk about my characters."
Some of Viegas' favorite crime writers include Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, Raymond Chandler and John Le Carré. But Viegas also knows his literary classics. As a professor of literature and linguistics (as well) he staunchly encourages his students to read the classics. Below is a list of Viegas' recommendations.