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Reading "when it was time to set the table".

Reading "Ars Poetica".


Artigo sobre "Cal" na revista "Forum for Modern Language Studies" da Bown University, com o título "DEMARGINALIZING PORTUGAL'S ELDERLY: REPRESENTATIONS OF AGEING IN JOSÉ LUÍS PEIXOTO'S CAL", por Daniel F. Silva e Sandra I. Sousa



Article about JLP's book of stories Cal in Brown University's Forum for Modern Language Studies, under the title DEMARGINALIZING PORTUGAL'S ELDERLY: REPRESENTATIONS OF AGEING IN JOSÉ LUÍS PEIXOTO'S CAL, by Daniel F. Silva and Sandra I. Sousa.


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José Luís Peixoto reading from "The Piano Cemetery" in Glendale, Los Angeles, CA.

Jose Luis Peixoto reading from 'The Implacable Order of Things' ('Blank Gaze') in Santa Monica, CA.

José Luís Peixoto is the featured writer on the December 2010 issue of The Warwick Review, published by the Writing Programme of Warwick University and edited by poet/translator Michael Hulse.


The Warwick Review

Michael Hulse interviewed by Sabotage Magazine


José Luis Peixoto was born in a small village from the south interior of Portugal, in the Portuguese region of Alentejo. He finished a degree on Modern Languages and Literature in the Universidade Nova de Lisboa. Was a teacher for some years in Portugal and in Cabo Verde before becoming a professional writer in 2001.



Galveias - The Best Translation Award Japan 2019 (Best foreign novel translated into japanese in 2019)

Galveias - Prémio Oceanos 2016 (Best novel published in all portuguese-speaking countries in 2015)

Livro - Prémio Libro d'Europa 2013 (Best novel published in Europe in 2012)

A Criança em RuínasPrémio da Sociedade Portuguesa de Autores 2013 (Best poetry book published in Portugal on the previous year)

Gaveta de Papéis - Prémio de Poesia Daniel Faria 2008 (Best poetry book published in Portugal by a poet under 35 years old)

Cemitério de Pianos - Prémio Cálamo 2007 (Best foreign novel published in Spain in 2007)

Nenhum Olhar - Prémio Literário José Saramago 2001 (Best novel published in all portuguese speaking countries on the two previous years)


International Publishing Houses

Peixoto's books are currently translated into 30 languages.

Here are some of the publishing houses where Peixoto's books are available: 

Bloomsbury (UK), Doubleday, Random House (US), Grasset (France), Seuil (France), Literatura Random House (spanish-speaking countries), Companhia das Letras (Brazil), Einaudi (Italy), Kedros (Greece), Meulenhoff (Nederlands), Atlas Contact (Nederlands), Kineret (Israel), Wsoy (Finland), Polirom (Romania), Bozicevic (Croatia), Bakur Sulakauri (Georgia), among many others. 



'Peixoto is one of the most surprising revelations in recent Portuguese literature. I have no doubts that he is the safe promise of a great writer'
José Saramago


‘Peixoto has an extraordinary way of perceiving, conveyed in his original choices of language and imagery’
Times Literary Supplement


“Splendidly demanding.... The images Peixoto evokes in helping his characters communicate without words are singular and unforgettable.... Nature appears to prevail as the governing force, and Peixoto's brilliance and power as an artist are precisely in his desire to mimic nature's ability to create and destroy simultaneously.”
San Francisco Chronicle"


“Peixoto offers an appealing addition to the genre of rural magical realism…. [A] poignant debut."
Kirkus Reviews


“You read and breathe as if you were downing a bottle of life in one gulp.”
Le Figaro (about Blank Gaze)


‘Peixoto has an acute ear for cadence, a sharp eye for the luminous image and a good nose for the pungent’


'Peixoto's evocation of pathos is tempered by a keen sense of the absurd'
Financial Times


“Peixoto comes from the world of poetry and of the theatre. And this can be sensed here. His pages, purified in the lyrical prose that makes them unique, introduce us to a rural space burned by the sun, inhabited by the singing of the cicadas and suspended in a mythical time where each action has a biblical inevitability.”
Vogue Italia



Translated from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn.


The extraordinary story of two generations in a Lisbon family of carpenters and of a father's attempt to outrun his fate in the marathon in the Stockholm Olympics in 1912.


Set in the working-class district of Benfica in Lisbon, "The Piano Cemetery" tells the story of a family, and especially of the hopes and fears of the fathers who pass the baton of the generations on to their sons.

The Lazaro family are cabinet-makers who would rather be piano-makers. They have a carpentry shop in the Benfica district of Lisbon and there at the back is the 'piano cemetery' piled high with broken-down pianos that provide the spare parts needed for repairing pianos all over the city. It is a mysterious and magical place, a place of solace, a dreaming place and, above all, a trysting place for lovers.

"The Piano Cemetery" is a wonderfully accomplished novel in which the true story of the Portuguese marathon-runner, Francisco Lazaro, is woven into a rich narrative of love, betrayal, domestic happiness and dashed hopes. Narrated in part by the father of Francisco Lazaro on the day his grandson is born and the day he himself dies and in part by his son as he runs the Stockholm marathon of 1908, remembering his family and his loves as he struggles against the heat and strives to outrun death itself. It is a beautifully constructed tale, that is by turns, violent and tender, funny and moving, with flashes of true insight, startling imagery and an instinctive understanding of families and their ways.

"The Piano Cemetery" establishes Jose Luis Peixoto not only as the leading Portuguese novelist of his generation, but as a major figure on the international literary scene.


Out in November 2010


Pre-order here:


More info here:




Translated by Richard Zenith.


In a village in the Portuguese region of Alentejo, against a background of severe rural poverty, Jose Luis Peixoto weaves a mesmerising tale of men and women hardened by hunger and toil, but prey to jealousy, violence and the overwhelming power of fate.

Jose, a taciturn shepherd, sees his happiness slowly crumble away as 'the Devil' tells him he is being cuckolded. Old Gabriel, aged 120, offers wise counsel, while a different kind of love story develops concerning Siamese twins joined at the tips of their fingers. Unable to live without each other, they find their tender communion shattered when one of them falls in love with the local cook. And, of course, there is the Devil himself.

Peixoto has written a book of haunting beauty. He is a poet, as his exquisite and subtle prose and powerful imagery attest. There are touches of the magical but this is not magic realism. Peixoto deals in archetypes as his characters seem driven by a fate beyond them to fulfil their roles in a never-ending cycle of violence, retribution and death. The village is a unique, richly textured world but it could be a village in any impoverished rural setting. Its characters are universal as are their hopes in the face of hardship. Love may be a luxury but there are moments of the greatest tenderness between even the most unlikely lovers.


Written with subtle prose and powerful imagery, Blank Gaze/The Implacable Order of Things draws us into this unique and richly textured world. It is a novel of haunting beauty and heralds the arrival of an astoundingly gifted and poetic writer.



Published by Bloomsbury (Uk hardcover and paperback) and Doubleday/Random House (US hardcover), Anchor/Random House (US paperback).


Buy it here:




Also available in e-book.

Blank Gaze (UK title), The Implacable Order of Things (US title), Nenhum Olhar (Pt title) - Review in San Francisco Chronicle, 22nd August 2008


By Tatyana Gershkovich.


Translation gets a bad rap. At one point or another, every reader has soured on a book in translation after some pompous polyglot declares, "Ah, but you should read the original!" No doubt, much can be lost. But a book's journey around the world also offers an occasion to re-examine and refine its most remarkable attributes, attributes that might have been obscured by an initial choice of words, or - in the case of José Luís Peixoto's splendidly demanding novel - a title.


Published originally in Portuguese as "Blank Gaze" (2001), the book is set in an unnamed town in the arid, sun-bleached Alentejo region of Portugal. It's an austere name for an austere place. Peixoto - in Richard Zenith's translation - weaves together stories of the town's inhabitants, some told from their own perspectives and others related by an unknown and detached observer. A shepherd learns of his wife's infidelity and confronts her lover. Conjoined twin brothers marry the town cook and lose each other. A deformed child is born to a blind prostitute and a crippled carpenter, confronting them with the grotesque consequences of their love. The brutality of nature permeates each tale. "The sun shows us our own desperateness," says Old Gabriel, the town's 120-year-old wise man. "For those with understanding, this sun is the hand that caresses us and crushes us."


Dialogue is nearly absent from the novel. Peixoto's characters speak in streams of consciousness and only to themselves. They have a deeply rooted distrust of language, perhaps because they can neither read nor write. But what a marvelous chance for the author to display his own linguistic virtuosity! The images Peixoto evokes in helping his characters communicate without words are singular and unforgettable. The cook tells her husband, Moisés, that she's sick of eating the same old thing by preparing "a platter with shapely, wide-open potato legs and an open, steaming vagina made of collard greens which, by a trick of her culinary art, slowly contracted ... until it became a collard-green vagina that was irrevocably closed and dried up."


The cook adheres faithfully to the principle "Show, don't tell," but elsewhere, Peixoto occasionally falters. The author is too blunt in conveying his notion that a look succeeds where language fails. The shepherd José realizes he has always been a stranger to his wife, but he is granted one moment of communion with her when they exchange glances: "Wife, I don't know what we were, but I know this day that you are mine. ... Your gaze and your silence are my own." The eye as window to the soul is a well-worn notion, one made less bearable by the allusion to it in the original title. "Blank Gaze" reveals a blemish instead of pointing to the bountiful originality in Peixoto's work.


The work will make its American debut under a loftier title: "The Implacable Order of Things." But what the title loses in austerity it gains in purpose, illuminating the novel's deeper theme of co-existence between order and chaos, and revealing the author's immense artistic ambition.

In telling the history of the village, Peixoto examines the forces that govern our lives and creates a hierarchy among them. First, he peels away the least important, the man-made institutions of government and religion. The wealthy landowners who used to oversee the village move away; the villagers forget the names of the saints and lose their religion. The bonds of love and marriage remain a little longer, but they, too, disintegrate after lovers grasp the insurmountable psychic distance between each other.


Nature appears to prevail as the governing force, and Peixoto's brilliance and power as an artist are precisely in his desire to mimic nature's ability to create and destroy simultaneously. From the first words of his novel, as the silhouettes of his characters begin to come alive, Peixoto is already in the process of destroying their world. He inverts the landscape - "perhaps we see everything upside down and the earth is a kind of sky" - and then proceeds to let his universe collapse in on itself.


This challenging novel is a testament to the artistic ambitious of its author, whose bold experiments with form and arresting imagery have earned the 33-year-old a José Saramago literary award. José Luís Peixoto's work is now available in 12 languages, and it is well worth knowing - even in translation.

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