Glendon grad student wins top Portuguese-language literary prize

York grad student Ana Fernandes was recently awarded the Camöes Prize, the most prestigious distinction for literature in the Portuguese language.

Fernandes, a French teacher who is studying for her master’s degree in French at Glendon and earned a BA in 1998 and a BEd in 1999 from York, won the Camöes Prize for a short story with autobiographical overtones. The central character is a young girl named Gloria, who leaves her birthplace, a tiny Portuguese village, to start a new life in Canada. The reader meets Gloria a number of years later as she takes stock of her past and of the problems of her new community. The story analyzes the issues concerning Portuguese emigration and immigration, the feelings this process elicits in those who leave, as well as a more global examination of the future of a nation that once conquered the world.

Since she does not live in Portugal, Fernandes is not eligible for the financial portion of the prize. However, she received the other benefits of the Camöes – a trip to Portugal and the coveted publication of her short story. The prize will be formally presented to her by the Government of Portugal in the near future.

Previous winners include José Saramago, recipient of the Camöes in 1995, who won the Nobel Prize for literature three years later.

Submitted by Marika Kemeny, public relations and communications adviser at York’s Glendon College