THE RETURN OF THE CARAVELS by António Lobo Antunes

THE RETURN OF THE CARAVELS

KIRKUS REVIEW

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.

Antunes isn’t easygoing, but the chaotic brio of his sardonic tragicomic sensibility is often perversely entertaining.

Pub Date: March 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-8021-1708-2
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Grove
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2002




MORE BY ANTÓNIO LOBO ANTUNES

FictionTHE LAND AT THE END OF THE WORLD by António Lobo Antunes
by António Lobo Antunes
NonfictionTHE FAT MAN AND INFINITY by António Lobo Antunes
by António Lobo Antunes
FictionWHAT CAN I DO WHEN EVERYTHING’S ON FIRE? by António Lobo Antunes
by António Lobo Antunes

MORE BY GREGORY RABASSA

FictionWHAT CAN I DO WHEN EVERYTHING’S ON FIRE? by António Lobo Antunes
by António Lobo Antunes
FictionMASTER OF THE SEA by José Sarney
by José Sarney
NonfictionIF THIS BE TREASON by Gregory Rabassa
by Gregory Rabassa