Author Tags: Fiction

paulo da costa won the Commonwealth First Book Prize (Canada and the Caribbean) and the W.O. Mitchell City of Calgary Book Prize for his first collection, The Scent of a Lie (2002), containing twelve magic realist stories set in Portugal. Some of the same characters weave in and out of the stories so it becomes like a fragmented novel.

Freelance writer and translator paulo da costa was born in Luanda, Angola and raised in Vale de Cambra, Portugal. Since 1989 he has resided in Canada. He arrived in British Columbia in 2003. He has been an editor of filling Station magazine. His stories have been translated to Italian, Chinese, Spanish, Serbian, Slovenian, and Portuguese.


While concluding his degree in Coimbra, Paolo da Costa left on a short holiday and never returned, travelling extensively around the globe and ending up living and working in four continents. He settled in Western Canada, first in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, then on Vancouver Island. His first book of fiction, The Scent of a Lie, received the 2003 Commonwealth First Book Prize for the Canada-Caribbean Region, the W. O. Mitchell City of Calgary Book Prize and the Canongate Prize in Scotland for the title story.

In Portuguese he has published a collection of poetry, notas-de-rodapé (2005) and has received the ProVerbo prizes in fiction and poetry. His poetry and fiction have been published in literary magazines around the world and have been translated to Italian, Chinese, Spanish, Serbian, Slovenian and Portuguese. He has also published four original audio books: Twenty Poems (poetry), The Book of Catalogues (fiction), notas de rodapé (poesia), XX Poemas (poesia).

As a translator paulo has brought to the English-speaking readers a range of Portuguese poets including Nuno Júdice, Al Berto and Daniel Faria. To the Portuguese-speaking readers, and among others, he has translated the Canadian poets, Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Gary Geddes, Patrick Lane and Marilyn Bowering. The Cartography of Being, Selected Poems of Nuno Júdice 1976-2005 (2012) is his latest book of translations.

CITY/TOWN: Manson's Landing


AWARDS: Best First Book, Canada & Caribbean Region of the Commonwealth Writers Prize 2003, The City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize 2002, Canongate Prize for Short-Fiction 2001


Original Sins - UK Canongate, 2001.
TransLit - Volume V - Maureen Ranson. ed: Red Deer Press, 2001.
Writing On Air - David Rothenberg and Wandee Pryor eds: MIT Press, 2003.


The Scent of a Lie - short stories: Victoria, BC: Ekstasis Editions, 2002. 1-894800-07-9
notas de rodapé (Lisbon 2005)
The Green and Purple Skin of the World (Freehand 2013) $21.95). 978-1-55481-139-7
Beyond Bullfights and Ice Hockey Essays on Identity, Culture and Writing Language (2015)


The Cartography of Being, (poetry)
Nuno Júdice translated by paulo da costa,
O Perfume da Mentira (ficção),
notas de rodapé (poesia),

[BCBW 2016] "Fiction" "Portuguese"

The Green and Purple Skin of the World (Freehand $21.95)
Review (2013)

from BCBW 2013
We are fragile creatures, breakable but repairable. Often at home we experience our first betrayals, or first invisibilities.
paulo da costa’s fiction collection, The Green and Purple Skin of the World, consequently looks at what drives families apart and what forces them back together.

“It is often within the home where we first learn how not to care,” he says, “and to ignore the harm we inflict on others. We carry on later, failing to understand and protect the most vulnerable who will cross our paths, and often, we will abuse our circumstantial power to fulfill personal wants at another being’s expense.”

In the collection, a nine-year-old, certain she’s adopted, runs away from home and tells her stuffed rabbit, Carrot, that it’s not as easy to run away as she thought, especially when she suspects someone is following her. In private life, a man writes one-sided letters to his beloved as their relationship ruptures.

Another man ponders the positions of predator and prey with a cougar in a West Coast forest. A son tries to convince his aging mother to accept a new IKEA table. A passionate soccer fan shares his near-religious fervor with his young boy.

“If we desire effective change in the destructive ways we relate to each other as communities and nations,” says da costa, “if we desire to change the destructive ways we relate to the larger web of life on the planet and cosmos, we must first understand how we begin to fail each other in the realm of the personal and of family life.”
Quite likely B.C.’s only Angolan-born author, paulo da costa was raised in Vale de Cambra, Portugal and arrived in Canada in 1989. Having won Best First Book, Canada & Caribbean Region of the Commonwealth Writers Prize 2003, the City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize in 2002 and the Canongate Prize for Short-Fiction in 2001, da costa moved to B.C. in 2003 and now lives on Vancouver Island. His stories have been translated into Italian, Chinese, Spanish, Serbian, Slovenian and Portuguese.


Beyond Bullfights and Ice Hockey


Interview in Portuguese-American Review
Posted on December 21, 2015 by escritorto

Congratulations on publishing “Beyond Bullfights and Ice Hockey: Essays on Language, Identity and Writing Culture”. What is this book’s genre or category?

paulo da costa – The book can be seen as a creative non-fiction collection of texts that stretches its traditional essay-like boundaries past the more journalistic or academic essay by its irreverence, humour and often its embrace of a poetic tone to deliver thought through the vein of beauty. I hope it will be seen as a garden of beautiful words with philosophical substance. A poet at heart can never abstain from wrapping his thoughts in beauty. An edible garden that is also pleasing to the eye and the spirit as all our farms and gardens should be.

PAR – Please describe what the book is about.

pc – The essays, thoughts, inner conversations, arguments and rambles in this book have been written over the course of the past twenty-odd years and depict the evolution of my reflections on subjects of individual, linguistic and cultural identity, in particular when one is faced with relocation and in the context of the emigration/immigration experience. The last section of the book explores the role of literature and authors in our modern societies, the perennial challenges faced by those of us in the profession of letters amid an adverse, mercantilist and cut-throat neo-liberal environment.

PAR – What led you to write this book?

pc – The necessity to find clarity and self-encouragement by naming the obstacles, revisiting my experiences, exploring possible solutions found along my personal path as a cultural worker. A calling I am devoted to even if not cherished and rewarded by most people or societies in this and many other times and places in History.

PAR – What was your biggest surprise during the writing of the book?

pc – That the texts carried a strong connecting spine along two decades of pondering and meditations, that they could deliver a body of coherent thought and views to now become a book.

PAR – What would you have done differently if you could do it again?

pc – Wire the book to my brain and allow the reader an updating of those views, arguments and meditations in my constantly evolving mind. This has traditionally been the advantage of the oral tradition over the static book, when it can only offer a frozen slice of a person’s state of mind at the time and place of a thought’s conception. It could only offer a one-sided conversation to the reader. In the past the book conversation could only grow outward, as a departure point from the original text finding its continued life in tertúlias or conversation, letters exchanged, disagreements and arguments erupting from its reading. Perhaps now the new electronic production of books will allow a speedier inclusion and update to this ever continuous flow of the writer’s mind … as well as more inclusive conversation with the reader.

PAR – Best piece(s) of advice for Portuguese-Americans and Portuguese-Canadians who want to write?

pc – Even though the latest generation of Portuguese-Americans and Portuguese-Canadians have culturally inherited a challenging landscape, that in general, did not value our voices, views and experiences due to the socio-economic context of our North-American emigration, the time is now ripe to set free those once tentative whispers that survived behind closets and altars, wine cellars and sports chatter. Although the time between the landing of our bodies and the finding of our voices on these shores shows a significant lag, we have now finally arrived and our experiences, dreams and reflections do matter.

PAR – Tells us something personal about you that people may be surprised to know?

pc – I nearly failed high-school English as a teenager in Portugal. It reveals again that one’s biggest challenges might turn into our greatest gifts, as long as we are willing to find the strength and perseverance to overcome and transform them. I wished my then English teacher could stumble upon my books now. We might find a mischievous smile on her face.

PAR – Now your book is out, what’s your next project?

pc – I have several books of poetry and fiction due to be released in the coming years. Meanwhile, I am working on finishing three novels which are at varied stages of (d)evolution. The latest and most exciting work is a novel with its foreground on the resistance underground movements that led to the Portuguese Carnation revolution and the decolonization of the Portuguese territories in Africa.

PAR – What book by a Portuguese-American or Portuguese-Canadian writer do you recommend to our readers?

pc – I have great admiration for the work of Eduardo Bettencourt Pinto who I see as one of the most remarkable poets alive in the Portuguese language. He has been neglected both in Portugal and in the Diaspora partly due to writing solely or mostly in Portuguese, far from the literary spheres of influence and visibility which are mostly located in Lisbon. Any book by him is a rich, rewarding experience. One could start by Sombra de uma Rosa, a short-story collection. Of course there are many other talented writers in the Diaspora and I would encourage readers to explore them in the just released anthology: Writers of the Portuguese Diaspora in the United States and Canada.


Portuguese-American Review