Luis Cardoso suffers the rather unfortunate title of “Timor’s only novelist.” For if he were one of many, he would not be viewed as a token, he would not be celebrated for his nationality.
His works have been recognized in the UK (Granta published him) and he’s received praise across Europe.
His body of work, which is exceptional and gives us a living and yet historicized image of Timor, is not that widely available in Portugal. He publishes with one of the most recognized publishing houses, Dom Quixote. And yet his work has not received the critical attention it deserves.
This could be about to change, as Cardoso’s fourth book is being introduced by Antonio Lobo Antunes, a very private author who is revered for his gigantic, varied, reflective body of work.
While seemingly influenced by African and Portuguese writers, Cardoso’s tone and form of story-telling is far from cliché or even familiar.
The book is about WWII in East Timor, and the appearance on the scene of the mysterious French sailor Alain Gerbault, who the world learned only 1944 had died in Dili in late 1941, on the eve of the Japanese invasion. It deals with the tumultuous experience in the mountains and in Dili of the war, in a way that only Cardoso can tell it.