According to a statement released by the organisers of the fair, “First Floor Right” was one of two foreign books to be distinguished with the Chen Bochui prize, which takes the name of the Chinese writer and translator of children’s literature and is promoted by several Shanghai entities, linked to the editing and promotion of reading.
After evaluating 250 books from 15 countries and regions, the competition’s jury stressed that many of the award-winning works describe how young people are dealing with the problems and feelings created by the covid-19 pandemic.
“First Floor Right”, about a young woman who is locked in the house and entertains himself by observing the people living in the building opposite, was released last May, during the period of confinement.
“It was a happy coincidence at an unfortunate moment in our lives,” the author, Ricardo Henriques, told Lusa. “People have seen in this book a portrait of this moment that we are living in,” added the editor of The Logical Duck, André Letria.
The original goal of “First Floor Right”, sponsored by the Portuguese Society of Authors, was to explain to a younger audience the importance of artists’ work and “how sometimes this is a little invisible,” illustrator Nicolau Fernandes told Lusa.
The book was inspired by the film “Rear Window”, with Nicolau Fernandes even using the colour palette of the film directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1954, in brown and orange tones.
In addition to calling Graça the protagonist, “in honour of Grace Kelly”, the main actress of the film, alongside James Stewart, Ricardo Henriques also included a tribute to the art director Hal Pereira, Hitchcock’s usual collaborator, and descendant of Portuguese Sephardic Jews.
Ricardo Henriques believes that the Chen Bochui prize could open China’s doors to the “1st Right”.
The author’s first book for The Logic Duck, “Sea”, is being translated into Chinese by Shandong Science and Technology Press Co Ltd.
André Letria was surprised by the award, remembering that the protagonist of the book is a black girl watching a multicultural street. “We are curious to see what the reaction will be like in China,” says the editor.