Books by António Lobo Antunes

THE LAND AT THE END OF THE WORLD by António Lobo Antunes
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 23, 2011

"More effective as an indictment of colonial war than a psychological study. "
This semi-autobiographical novel about Portugal's war in Angola was originally published in 1979. Read full book review >
THE FAT MAN AND INFINITY by António Lobo Antunes
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 1, 2009

"An exemplary work of writerly autobiography."
Lively, wholly enjoyable memoir by prolific Portuguese novelist Antunes (What Can I Do When Everything's on Fire?, 2008, etc.). Read full book review >
WHAT CAN I DO WHEN EVERYTHING’S ON FIRE? by António Lobo Antunes
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 1, 2008

"Strictly for those who like experimental fiction."
A prolonged tempest in a demitasse in the demimonde of contemporary Lisbon. Read full book review >
KNOWLEDGE OF HELL by António Lobo Antunes
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 15, 2008

"Not always coherent and sometimes over the top stylistically, but its intensity never flags, and in bursts the prose can be startlingly original."
The first English translation of Antunes's 1980 novel, third in a surreal, teasingly autobiographical trilogy having to do with a psychiatrist haunted by his participation in Portugal's colonial war in Angola during the 1970s. Read full book review >
THE INQUISITORS’ MANUAL by António Lobo Antunes
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Jan. 1, 2003

"In so dark a tale there can be no chirpy affirmations, but only telling indictments of the corrupt, the cruel, and the unjust—and these Antunes memorably accomplishes."
Portugal's years under the fascist Salazar are portrayed in a succession of bad dreams, each vividly recalled as characters comment on that dark night of the national soul. Read full book review >
THE RETURN OF THE CARAVELS by António Lobo Antunes
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 1, 2001

"Antunes isn't easygoing, but the chaotic brio of his sardonic tragicomic sensibility is often perversely entertaining."
If Portuguese postmodernist Antunes (whose mazelike fictions include An Explanation of the Birds, 1991, and Fado Alexandrino, 1990) were a filmmaker, he'd be the late Luis Buñuel—who, incidentally, makes a telling brief appearance in this multilayered 1988 novel. It's an energetic conflation of historical past and fictional near-present, in which Vasco de Gama's 16th-century voyages of exploration merge with evidence of the dissolution of Portugal's colonial African empire. Multiple narrators—including poet Luis Camoes (author of his country's national epic The Lusiads), a motherly mulatto whore, and a distracted Admiral lost in dreams of the fleshpots of Amsterdam—evoke a dizzyingly complex series of visions of political, mercantile, and sexual adventuring and exploitation. Hyperbole is Antunes's game (figures like "a plantation overseer, who did secret business in Siamese twins and . . . "a poet with powdered hair and shoes with buckles and high heels" keep turning up), and the result is a jagged storm of a book that the reader must be prepared to weather. Read full book review >
ACT OF THE DAMNED by António Lobo Antunes
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 20, 1995

A feverish chronicle of family disintegration rendered as an exhilarating cacophony of conflicting voices: the fourth novel from an award-winning Portuguese author to be translated into English (An Explanation of the Birds, 1991, etc.). Its action occurs seven years after a Communist revolution that confiscated the property of Lisbon's landed aristocracy and drove its possessors into exile in neighboring Spainand in the resentful remembrances of the members of a nameless family whom Louis-Ferdinand CÇline or Erskine Caldwell would be proud to have created (though in fact they're reminiscent of the cupidinous grotesques who populate the fiction of Spain's Nobel Prize-winner Camilo JosÇ Cela). The novel turns on the question of whether its senile patriarch's legendary wealth does still exist, oras some allegehas instead been ``all squandered away in casinos, whorehouses, hospitals and doctors for the two idiots''? But mongoloidism and retardation are only the most visible blemishes sported by a wolfish clan whose favorite pastimes include theft, adultery, rape, incest, murderous fantasizing (if not outright murder), and teaching parrots to shriek out obscenities. It's probably beside the point that Antunes's characters seem hysterically overdrawn; his mixtures of realistic narration, memory, and fantasy frequently impenetrable; and his condemnation of upper-class swinishness numbingly shrill. The novel is densely packed with surrealistically heightened detail and amusingly nasty figurative language (e.g., ``Her fingers climbed up his wrist the way crabs climb up rocks at low tide''). Antunes is not a subtle writerone imagines disco music throbbing and strobe lights winking while reading him. But for all this frenzied book's wretched excess, the fury of its rhetoric takes on all but irresistible momentum, dragging the reader, albeit kicking and screaming, into its lunatic orbit. Read full book review >
AN EXPLANATION OF THE BIRDS by António Lobo Antunes
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: July 1, 1991

A novel of dark, often bitter, humor and remembrance from Portuguese writer Antunes (Fado Alexandrino, 1990), whose hapless hero here represents all that's wrong with post-revolutionary Lisbon. Between a Thursday and a Sunday, Rui S.—a 33-year-old political historian and the son of a leading industrialist who has rebelled against his bourgeois family—recalls his unhappy past and anticipates a different future. Nothing has ever gone right for poor Rui. A failure in high school, expelled by the Communist Party for being too bourgeois, deserted by his first wife, and ignored by his second (a hard-line Communist and genuine member of the proletariat), Rui has only one happy memory to sustain him—talking about birds as a child with his father. And now that his mother is dying—while his philandering father is traveling as usual—Rui decides that he must somehow change his life, beginning with the upcoming weekend when he and his wife are away at a conference. At an appropriate moment he will tell her that he is going to leave her. Instead, the two end up at a run-down inn on the coast where the beach is home to hundreds of gulls—which, in turn, remind Rui of his one happy moment. Then, when his wife announces first that she's leaving him, Rui has no alternative but to do what he's already imagined. Surrounded by circling sea gulls, Rui ends his life—his one successful accomplishment. Antunes evokes a corrupt and dying world, infused with yearning for lost innocence, where even the food and weather are foul and where only suicide, however melodramatic, makes sense. A remarkable combination of angry satire and elegiac tenderness. Read full book review >