Samira Lélis

Festival de Literatura-Mundo do Sal crowns Samira Lélis

Samira Lélis’ manuscript No Encanto da Ilha was named the winner of Prémio Lhana de Literatura 2023 at Festival de Literatura-Mundo do Sal in Cape Verde on Sunday, June 11, 2023.

In 2017, the Festival de Literatura-Mundo do Sal (English: Sal World Literature Festival) created by Filinto Elísio, José Luís Peixoto, Márcia Souto and Patrícia Pinto was hosted in Sal, Cape Verde. In the following years, the festival has continued being a space for writers from Cape Verde to interact with peers both local and international. It also helped consolidate the island of Sal as a literary centre in Cape Verde and inscribe it as a recognized Literary Island internationally.

Some of the people who have had the festival dedicated in their honour have been Cape Verdean poet Corsino Fortes and Portuguese writer José Saramago (2017), Cape Verdean poet Mário Fonseca and Argentine writer Jorge Luiz Borges (2018), as well as Cape Verdean filmmaker Orlanda Amarilis, German poet and philosopher Goethe, and writer Oswaldo Osório (2019). The fourth edition, in 2022, after a break for Covid paid tribute to the Cape Verdean poet João Vário and the Malian traditionalist Amadou Hampâté Bâ.

The 2023 edition of the festival running from June 8 – 11 was the biggest of the series yet with Cape Verde’s President José Maria Neves opening proceedings and the closing session chaired by Minister of Tourism and Transport Carlos Jorge Duarte Santos. It was sponsored by the Municipality of Sal and by Oásis Atlântico and Hotel Morabeza, in addition to the support of Tui, the Regional Directorate for Culture of Madeira, the National Press of Portugal, Colégio Letrinhas, the Ministry of Tourism and Transport and the Embassy of Angola in Cape Verde, in addition to universities in Brazil and Italy.

Writers and professors, authors, researchers, editors and translators from the host Cape Verde as well as Germany, Angola, Brazil, Italy, Portugal and São Tomé and Príncipe were among those invited. They included Eurídice Monteiro, Roberto Francavilla, Raíssa Fonseca, Carlos Alberto Sousa Mendes (Princezito), Paula de Sousa Lima, Marco Piazza, Márcia Souto, Manuela Delgado dos Reis Andrade, José Luís Mendonça, Jorge Carlos Fonseca, Joaquim Arena, João Carlos Abreu, Inocência Mata, Henrique Levy, Hélio Manuel da Cruz, Francisco António Tomar, Filinto Elísio, Evel Rocha, Duarte Azinheira, Djaimilia Pereira de Almeida, Cláudia Maria Ferreira Faria, Clara Silva, Barbara Mesquita, António Correia e Silva, Amália Maria Vera-Cruz de Melo Lopes, Agnaldo Rodrigues da Silva, and Adelaide Monteiro. This year it honoured Cape Verdean linguist Dulce Almada Duarte and Italian writer Antonio Tabucchi.

Prémio Lhana de Literatura

One of the new offerings for 2023 was the Prémio Lhana de Literatura (English: Lhana Prize for Literature) aimed at encouraging and rewarding Cape Verdean writers on the islands and in the diaspora. It was hoped the new prize for prose worth 1,200,000 CVE would open up new spaces for participation and other opportunities to promote Cape Verdean literature. The jury comprised the writer José Luís Hopffer Almada, Cape Verdean University professor, Fátima Fernandes, and Brazilian University professor, Simone Caputo Gomes.

Fifteen texts competed for literary glory with the winner being declared to be Economist Samira Lélis who won the award for her work “No Encanto da Ilha.” The manuscript written a decade ago has the islands of Santo Antão and Sal as settings.

“When they said I won, I didn’t react. It is an incredible satisfaction, especially knowing that my work has been competing with other famous names in the world of literature,” Lelis said to Balai.

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