Considered by many to be the enfant terrible of Portuguese literature, Miguel Esteves Cardoso was born in Lisbon in 1955 to a Portuguese father and English mother. A writer, journalist, radio broadcaster, and music critic, among many other things, MEC (as he is usually referred to) has captivated audiences with his irreverent style and his humorous and often disconcerting takes on Portuguese society.
During the late 1970s to early 1980s, his doctoral studies at the University of Manchester coincided with the emergence of the post-punk movement. This allowed him to be in close contact with and write about bands like Joy Division and The Fall.
After returning to Portugal he turned to journalism and co-founded the weekly O Independente. Irreverent yet conservative, libertarian yet monarchic, MEC has written about almost everything. From Joy Division vs ABBA to a satirical diatribe against Portugal’s adherence to the European Economic Community to a praise in defense of codfish, his columns have appeared in several newspapers and magazines and have been compiled and published in separate volumes.
MEC has published three novels, O Amor é Fodido (Love is Fucked Up, 1994), A Vida Inteira (The Whole Life, 1995), and O Cemitério de Raparigas (The Cemetery of Girls, 1996). Also a translator, MEC has brought Samuel Beckett and W. B. Yeats into Portuguese.
His success as a writer turned him into something of a cult figure, later confirmed by his participation in the popular television show of the mid-1990s, A Noite da Má Língua (Back Stabbing Nights), of which Rui Zink – an author featured in our Portuguese reading group in autumn 2011 – was also part of.
Featured Reading Group Title
O Amor é Fodido (Love is Fucked Up)
João is sixty and lives in a retirement home. He remembers Teresa: how he hated her. How he loved her. How he hated her. From a failed double suicide attempt to sexual practices in wheelchairs, O Amor é Fodido (Love is Fucked Up) roams through the twisted minds of a couple in an exercise of lacerating self-reflection, while searching for permanence in love through lies, deceit, psychosis and sex. Love is fucked up. And so is fucking. MEC means it.
The author uses a richly colloquial language, often contrasted with more archaic expressions and odd idioms. He also plays with a remarkable variety of registers: the male character’s monologue is interspersed with numerous dialogues, as well as poems and aphorisms. These experimental aspects did not stop the book from having wide appeal. It sold extremely well in Portugal and Brazil.
- O Amor é Fodido was featured in our summer 2012 Portugese reading group.
- Francisco Vilhena’s sample translation from Love is Fucked Up (279) is available to download for free.
- If you’ve read the book or translated extract, let us know what you think by commenting below.