António Lobo Antunes

Portrait António Lobo Antunes
© Ali Ghandtschi

António Lobo Antunes was born in Lisbon in 1942 and grew up in the Benfica district. His parents belonged to the upper middle classes. He studied medicine in his home city, specialising in psychiatry. From 1971 to 1973, during the colonial war in Angola, he worked as a military doctor. After his return he worked as a psychiatrist at the psychiatric clinic Hospital de Miguel Bombarda in Lisbon. He began writing his first two novels, “Memória de Elefante” (t: Elephant’s memory) and “Os Cus de Judas” (Eng. “South of Nowhere”, 1983), in 1976. Both were published in 1979 and made their author famous overnight in Portugal. They deal with his experiences in the war and in his pr ofessional life, as do many of his later works. He has been a freelance writer since 1985.

Lobo Antunes has been on the cards for a Nobel Prize for years. His novels have an inimitable style; artistic, complex and occasionally labyrinthine in construction, they are characterised by frequent shifts in perspective and pacing. Quite often, events that occur across a broad period of time will be dealt with in a tightly com pr essed form in the text. His works deal with Portugal in history and today, and concentrate on borderline or unimportant lives. Verena Auffermann summed Lobo Antunes up, commenting that he has “in his own way, understanding politics as human fate, written the social history of Portugal from the colonial war in Angola, through the Salazar dictatorship and the Carnation Revolution of 1975, up to today’s pr osperity following EU membership”.

To date, the author has written over 20 books. Among the most important are “Fado Alexandrino” (1983; Eng. 1990), “As Naus” (1988; Eng. “The Return of the Caravels”, 2002) and “Manual dos Inquisidores” (1996; Eng. “The Inquisitor’s Manual”, 2003). Since 1998 his “Crónicas” – often autobiographical pieces for the Sunday supplement of the Portuguese daily newspaper”Público” and later for the weekly “Visão” – have been appearing in book form. By now there are three volumes. In 2005 his daughters Maria José and Joana published the letters which Lobo Antunes sent to his wife while he was in Angola under the title “D’este viver aqui neste papel descripto: cartas de guerra” (2005; t: Life, written on paper: Letters from the war). A year later his most recent novel, “Ontem não te vi em Babilónia” (t: Yesterday I haven’t seen you in Babylon), was published.

Lobo Antunes’ works have been translated into more than thirty languages and honoured with numerous pr izes and awards, including the Grande Prémio de Romance e Novela of the Portuguese Writers’ Association, the Prêmio Franco-Português, the Austrian State Award for European Literature, the Jerusalem Prize, and most recently the Prêmio Camões, the most pr estigious pr ize of the Portuguese-speaking countries. In 2007 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the university Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro. Lobo Antunes lives in Lisbon.

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