Afonso Cruz

Born in 1971 in Figueira da Foz, years later he would visit more than 60 countries. He studied at the António Arroio Art School, the Lisbon Faculty of Visual Arts and the Institute for Visual Arts of Madeira. He published in 2008 his first novel, The Flesh of God: The Adventures of Conrado Fortes and Lola Benites [A Carne de Deus: Aventuras de Conrado Fortes e Lola Benites], and a year later The Encyclopedia of the World Story [Enciclopédia da Estória Universal], which won the Camilo Castelo Branco Grand Prize. In 2011, he released The Books Which Devoured My Father [Os Livros Que Devoraram o Meu Pai] and The Human Contradiction [A Contradição Humana].

He was awarded the European Union Prize for Literature in 2012 for his novel Kokoschka's Doll [A Boneca de Kokoschka]. Jesus Christ Drank Beer [Jesus Cristo Bebia Cerveja] was considered the Best Portuguese Novel of the Year by Time Out Lisbon magazine and the Best Novel of 2012 by the readers of the reference newspaper Público. He was elected as one of the 40 talents for the future by the newspaper Expresso.

In 2013, he released The Encyclopedia of the World Story: The Dresner Archives [Enciclopédia da Estória Universal — Arquivos de Dresner], The Year Book [O Livro do Ano] and lastly Where do Umbrellas End Up [Para onde Vão os Guarda-chuvas], winner of the 2014 Portuguese Society for Authors Award in the Literature category and widely considered his best novel yet. His book Capital was awarded the 2014 Portuguese National Award for Illustration. He has a monthly column, "Parallax", in the arts newspaper Jornal de Letras, Artes e Ideias. He's also an illustrator, an animated film director and member of the band The Soaked Lamb.

Background

In the beginning it was the act of drawing.

It was through drawing that Afonso Cruz began his relationship with the act of creating. He drew passionately from an early age and never actually thought of becoming a writer. It was thanks to that habit that he eventually got his first job in animation, and circa 2007 made his debut as an illustrator with a book written by Alice Vieira. His own writing came later, driven by his love of reading, and it started off in blogs and during a brief stint in advertising. The Encyclopaedia of the World Story was born on the Internet. In the eternal struggle between work and inspiration, Afonso Cruz can't see either of them winning out. There will always be a lot of effort and invisible work behind even the most inspired achievements, although some contexts are more inspiring than others.

 

Nighttime, for instance, is the author's favourite part of the day. There are no phone calls to answer or e-mails to reply to. At that time, concentration is more favourable to inspiration. His routine is complete with mornings engaged in office work and afternoons dedicated to reading, which is essential to writing. Reading fuels Afonso Cruz's writing. As for the future, he himself isn't sure of what he'll be creating ten years from now. He'd rather focus on the present and leave it to chance, which is how he came to do the work he does today. The same work his readers, fans and listeners will decide whether or not to call an oeuvre. With a capital O.

Travels

It all began with animated film. Animation became his job, and that job would lead to a bad relationship. Even so, that's when he first felt the urge to travel alone around the world, without a camera hanging from his shoulder. It all started with animated film, which became his way of funding those travels. Afonso Cruz brought a lot back from his journeys, namely because of their ability to shape one's character. After a while, your gestures carry the weight of your travels, of your past behind them. As well as exploring its novelistic potential, the author also enjoys reflecting on the theory of travelling, nomadism and sedentism.

 

And he enjoys travelling because of books that come alive for different people and in different places. In fact, when you travel alone, books are a man's best friend. And when you don't take that camera dangling at your side, you spend a long time writing, which is the way to record what you've seen. That constant learning process is also responsible for the intimate relationship Afonso has with writing today.