I’ve never read anything by Portuguese author António Lobo Antunes, so I was psyched when his novel The Land at the End of the World showed up in paperback. Here’s an excerpt from Larry Rohter’s review at the NTY:
Combat experiences are like Tolstoy’s unhappy families: no two are alike, which may be why they often make for great novels, as Tolstoy also knew. The cause need not even be noble, since a hopeless situation and senseless violence can actually fortify a work of fiction. Certainly that is the case with António Lobo Antunes’s “Land at the End of the World,” set in Angola in the early 1970s, as Portugal’s ludicrous effort to preserve its African empire was meandering to an inglorious end. . . .
“The Land at the End of the World,” newly translated by Margaret Jull Costa, was originally published in 1979, four years after Portugal’s withdrawal from Africa and the final collapse of America’s intervention in Vietnam. At that time it was interpreted as a comment on the inherent futility of those recent Western adventures in the third world. But read at more than 30 years’ remove from those events much of this account of what Mr. Lobo Antunes’s narrator calls a “painful apprenticeship in dying” would no doubt make sense to survivors of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.