The writer Jacinto Lucas Pires has won this year’s John dos Passos Prize for his novel ‘Oração a que Faltam Joelhos’ (A Prayer that Lacks Knees, 2020), awarded by Madeira’s Regional Secretariat for Tourism and Culture, through the John dos Passos Cultural Centre.
This year, the prize, which has a monetary value of 7,500 euros, is being awarded to works of Portuguese-language fiction published within the country in the previous two years. For this edition, 45 works were entered in the categories of prose fiction, novel or short story anthology.
The jury was chaired by Bernardo de Vasconcelos, coordinator of the John dos Passos Cultural Centre, in Ponta do Sol, on the island of Madeira.
‘Oração a que Faltam Joelhos’ came out in September 2020, following ‘A Gargalhada de Augusto Reis’ (The Laughter of Augusto Reis) in 2018. According to Porto Editora, who published the book, ‘Oração a que Faltam Joelhos’ shows ‘the internal thoughts of Kate Souza – daughter of Portuguese emigrants in the United States – and her hopes and prayers.’
Jacinto Lucas Pires, 47, has received other awards, including the Prémio Europa — David Mourão-Ferreira, from the University of Bari and the Camões Institute, in 2008, and the DST Grand Prize for Literature, in 2013, for his novel ‘O Verdadeiro Ator’ (The True Actor).
Lucas Pires is the author of novels, short stories, theatre plays, films and music. Last year, in addition to ‘Oração a que Faltam Joelhos,’ he also published ‘Canto da Europa’ (Song of Europe), in the collection produced by the D. Maria II National Theatre. He directed the film ‘Triplo A’ (Triple A) and is a member of the band Os Quais, which released the album ‘Geral’ (General) in 2019. As a writer, he is part of the theatre company Ninguém.
This year, he published the short story collection ‘Doutor Doente’ (Doctor Patient’, through Húmus.
The John dos Passos Prize was initially promoted in a partnership between Ponta do Sol Municipal Council and Madeira’s former Regional Directorate for Cultural Affairs, through the John dos Passos Library.
It was awarded just three times, to ‘O Acidente’ (The Accident), by Mário Cabral, ‘História Contemporânea de Portugal. Do 25 de Abril à Actualidade’ (Contemporary History of Portugal. From 25 April to the Present Day), by António José Telo, and ‘Jesusalém,’ by Mia Couto.
It was picked up again in 2019 by the Regional Secretariat for Tourism and Culture, through the Regional Directorate for Culture and the John dos Passos Cultural Centre, in order to stress the ‘importance of promoting the memory and work of the writer John dos Passos,’ at the same time as stimulating ‘literary production and historical-literary research.’ Since then, the prize has gone to ‘O Século dos Prodígios — A Ciência no Portugal da Expansão’ (The Century of Prodigies – Portuguese Science in the Age of Expansion), by Onésimo Teotónio Almeida, and this year to Jacinto Lucas Pires’ novel.