The Return of the Caravels by António Lobo Antunes

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Called "hallucinatory and lyrical" (Publishers Weekly), The Return of the Caravels -- selected as a New York times Summer Reading title -- is a powerful indictment of Portuguese colonialism and another literary tour de force from the pen of Antonio Lobo Antunes, "the greatest living Portuguese writer" (Vogue). It is set in Lisbon as Portugal's African colonies gain their independence in the mid-1970s. In a contemporary response to Camoes's conquest epic The Lusiads, Antunes imagines Vasco da Gama and other heroes of Portuguese explorations beached amid the detritus of the empire's collapse. Or is it the modern colonials -- with their mixed-race heritage and uneasy place in the "fatherland" -- who have somehow ended up in sixteenth-century Lisbon? As da Gama begins winning back ownership of Lisbon piece by piece in crooked card games, four hundred years of Portuguese history mingle -- the caravels dock next to Iraqi oil tankers, and the slave trade rubs shoulders with the duty-free shops. The Return of the Caravels is a startling and uncompromising look at one of Europe's great colonial powers, and how the era of conquest reshaped not just Portugal but the world. "... the voice of Nabokov by way of Cortazar, Gogol by way of Dylan." -- Jonathan Levi, Los Angeles Times Book Review "Antunes has empathy for the contradictions of human feeling. He is a warm-bloodied writer."-- Michael Pye, The New York Times Book Review "[Antunes] deserves a wide audience of discerning readers." -- Michael Mewshaw, The Washington Post Book World

About António Lobo Antunes

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António Lobo Antunes, born in 1942, is the author of novels including What Can I Do When Everything's On Fire? and Act of the Damned. He lives in Lisbon, Portugal. Margaret Jull Costa is an award-winning translator of Portuguese and Spanish literature. She lives in the United Kingdom.
Published March 12, 2002 by Grove Press. 208 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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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.

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Publishers Weekly

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Antunes examines the legacy of the Portuguese conquistadors in his latest novel, a murky, hallucinatory affair in which the author follows half a dozen characters through the breakup of Portugal's colonial dominion in the 1970s while occasionally backtracking to the 16th century to trace the effe...

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The Paris Review

TAGS Angola, Antonio Lobo Antunes, censorship, democracy, Fascism, Jerusalem Prize, Margaret Jull Costa, Nobel, Portugal, The Fat Man and Infinity, The Land at the End of the World, The Splendor of Portugal, war.

Jul 26 2011 | Read Full Review of The Return of the Caravels

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