Miguel Esteves Cardoso

Miguel Esteves Cardoso photo

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.

More Information

  • Amor é Fodido was featured in our summer 2012 Portugese reading group.
  • Francisco Vilhena’s sample translation [download id=”48″] is available to download for free.
  • If you’ve read the book or translated extract, let us know what you think by commenting below.


  1. Georgia says:

    Sounds really interesting! I’d love to read more. Is that excerpt from the beginning of the book?

    • stefan says:

      Yes, it’s the very beginning of the book. Francisco has translated a bit more but we only have permission to publish the first chapter. I’ll email you some more.

  2. Chad says:

    This is a pretty intriguing opening . . . Can you email me the bit more that you have as well? Very intrigued to hear what other people think of this book.

  3. stefan says:

    Of course, Chad. I’ll send that over.

  4. Just starting to read the book myself now and it gets off to one hell of a start! MEC / MEC’s narrator – you bastard, I want to say, don’t be such a cynic. But then I want to underline all the great lines, too.

    Here’s the start of chapter two (as with the downloadable extract of chapter 1, it is translated by Francisco Vilhena). It speaks for itself:

    ‘Love is fucked up. I’ll always believe that. Wherever there is love, it will, sooner or later, end up being fucked.
    It’s better than dying. There are things, such as alcohol and books, which remain good all the way. Death is more boring.
    Why do we fuck love up? Because we can’t help it. It’s the evil it does to us. It looks like it’s asking for it. Besides, no one can handle living a kind of love that isn’t at least partially fucked up. There must be wreckage. There must be hope. There must be a downfall and a consequent longing for happier times to return. A kind of love that is just a little bit fucked up can be the most beautiful thing in the world.’

    Something very enjoyable to me in the (mock? or is it?) heroic of ‘There must be wreckage. There must be hope.’ and then the shift to a lighter tone at the end: ‘A kind of love that is just a little bit fucked up can be the most beautiful thing in the world.’ Verve and panache not in short supply here.


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