Chico Buarque Becomes First Musician to Win the Camões Prize

Composer is the first musician to win the prestigious prize honoring literary work in Portuguese

Maurício Meireles
São Paulo

Musician Chico Buarque is the newest winner of the Camões Prize, the most prestigious literary award of the Portuguese language.  A jury voted unanimously in his favor on Tuesday afternoon during a meeting at the National Library in Rio de Janeiro. Chico will receive € 100 thousand (R $ 452 thousand).

Hours passed until anyone could share the news with Chico. Luiz Schwarcz, his editor, Marieta Severo, his ex-wife, two advisors, and the Camões jury tried to contact Chico starting at 16h, but he is in Paris celebrating his birthday and did not answer calls. It was only around 7:30 pm that they were able to speak to him.

"I am very happy and honored to follow in the footsteps of Raduan Nassar," said the composer, through his spokesperson.

Photo of Chico Buarque included in the book "Revela-te, Chico - Uma Fotobiografia" - Rio de Janeiro - 2018 - Reprodução


The Camões prize, created in 1988, is awarded every year to an author from any Portuguese-speaking country. Named after Luís de Camões, it is the most important prize for literature in the Portuguese language. The choice recognizes an author's entire work, rather than just a specific work. The last Brazilian elected was Raduan Nassar, author of "Archaic Lavoura," in 2016. Last year, the Camões went to Germano de Almeida, a writer from Cape Verde.

In a statement, the prize's jury said that it chose Chico for both the quality of his work and his "contribution to the cultural formation of different generations in all the countries where Portuguese is spoken." The jurors also emphasized the "multifaceted character" of his work, which covers poetry, theater, and romance. "Their work has crossed borders and is a fundamental reference of the culture of the contemporary world," said the jury in the note.

Among the authors who have already won, Chico is the first to have in popular music his main work - Jorge Amado, who won in 1994, made compositions with Dorival Caymmi, but is best known for his books. The same is true for Ferreira Gullar, winner in 2010, who has composed successful songs for Fagner - but is also known mainly for his poetic work.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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