The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture / Tagus Press is a multidisciplinary international studies and outreach unit dedicated to the study of the language, literatures and cultures of the Portuguese-speaking world. Working in close partnership with the Department of Portuguese and the Ferreira-Mendes Portuguese-American Archives, it is the oldest of these units devoted to Portuguese at UMass Dartmouth.

Events - 2008

Portuguese novelist António Lobo Antunes talks at the Boston Athenaeum

September 25, 2008
Boston Athenæum, Boston

The Boston Athenaeum, in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture, the Consul General of Portugal in Boston, and the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, has announced a Book Talk by the Portuguese novelist António Lobo Antunes on September 25, 2008 at 6 p.m. at the Boston Athenæum, 10 1⁄2 Beacon Street on Beacon Hill near the State House (, (617) 227-0270).

The razor-thin line between reality and madness is transgressed in António Lobo Antunes's first novel to appear in English in five years, What Can I Do When Everything's On Fire?, set in the steamy world of Lisbon's demimonde. Psychologically penetrating, pregnant with literary symbolism, and deeply sympathetic in its depiction of society's dregs, Lobo Antunes's novel ventriloquizes the voices of the damned in a work that recalls Joyce's Ulysses with a dizzying farrago of urban images few readers will forget. What Can I Do When Everything's On Fire? was translated into English by Gregory Rabassa, who will join the author for this book talk. (Rabassa, whom the New York Times recently called “one of the great practitioners of his craft,” won the National Book Award in 1967 for Julio Cortázar’s Hopscotch, the first time the prestigious award was given for a translation, and has received numerous other awards, including the National Medal of Arts. He is considered the greatest translator from the Spanish and Portuguese of his generation.)

António Lobo Antunes is the author of sixteen novels, including Act of the Damned and The Natural Order of Things. In 2003, he was the subject of an international colloquium, “Facts and Fictions of António Lobo Antunes,” at the Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and will be the focus of the Center's Fall 2008 issue of the journal Portuguese Literary & Cultural Studies. He lives in Lisbon.

Tickets: $15, $10 for members. A reception and book signing will follow the talk. Reservations required at (617) 720-7600 STARTING Sept. 10.


About the author

Born in Lisbon on September 1, 1942, António Lobo Antunes grew up during the repressive years of the Salazar dictatorship.  He was 31 when the Carnation Revolution transformed Portugal from a virtual police state into a liberal democracy, but it was the political repression that he experienced during his youth that highly influenced his adult consciousness and would inform much of his fiction.

At the urging of his father, Lobo Antunes opted as a young man to go to medical school and specialized in psychiatry.  Required to serve in the Army, he became a military doctor in Portugal's doomed colonial war in Angola, and it was this experience that influenced many of his novels.  After his return to Lisbon in 1973, he began working as a clinical psychiatrist before devoting himself primarily to literature.

António Lobo Antunes has written 18 novels  that have been translated into more than 20 languages. His first novel, Memory of an Elephant, was published in 1979. In the same year, his second novel, South of Nowhere, a frantic monologue by a former soldier in Angola delivered to a lonely woman he meets in a bar, was published to international acclaim. His more recent novels, The Inquisitors’ Manual, about life during the Salazar dictatorship, and The Return of the Caravels, about the breakup of Portugal's colonial dominion in the 1970s, have both been named New York Times Notable Books of the Year.

António Lobo Antunes is considered by many the greatest novelist on the Iberian peninsula. For George Steiner he is the “heir to Conrad and Faulkner”. In fact, the Los Angeles Times Book Review commented that Antunes writes “with the insight of Faulkner, of a man who knows the scent and taste of the dust from which his characters are begotten”.

António Lobo Antunes has received numerous literary awards, such as the Jerusalem Prize for the Freedom of the Individual in Society (2005) and the Camões Prize, the most important literary prize for the Portuguese language (2007).  He lives in Lisbon.

International Praise for António Lobo Antunes

“A mad amalgam of Dos Passos and Céline.”
-- The New York Times Book Review (New York)

“The Greatest living Portuguese writer...He has been compared to Céline...[but] he owes as much to Proust in the complexity of his style. One could also invoke Malcolm Lowry or Cormac McCarthy for the visionary power, the buried violence.”
--Vogue (Paris)

“Lobo Antunes is a writer completely at ease with every aspect of his enormous talent.”
--The Observer (London)

“A real original. No one else writes quite like him.... Extraordinarily vivid prose, the pages [are] alive with surreal images.”
--The Times Literary Supplement (London)

“The aesthetic structure of his works conveys the assault of the past on the present as a polyphonic simultaneity...the thematic immersion of the story in local affairs transcends to allegory -- as in Faulkner, Woolf, or García Márquez.”
--Frankfurter Rundschau (Frankfurt)

“In less than five years, Lobo Antunes (Lisbon, 1942) has gone from being an unknown author to being considered by many the greatest novelist of the Iberian one of the finest international novelists of the moment.”
--La Vanguardia (Madrid)

“António Lobo Antunes is a novelist of the very first rank. His formidably concentrated, ironic fictions engage moral and political issues in a way that makes him heir to Conrad and to Faulkner. For the English-language reader, there is a world to discover.”
--George Steiner, author of The Death of Tragedy and Grammars of Creation