By the Rivers of Babylon


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Antonio Lobo Antunes; Translated from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa

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A profound and genre-defying work of literature about love, death, and illness from one of Portugal’s most celebrated writers
Incapacitated after the removal of a malignant tumor, the narrator, António, spends his days in a Lisbon hospital enduring the humiliations of severe illness. As he drifts in and out of consciousness, he revisits fragments of his life and the people who passed through it. He recalls the village where he lived as a child near the Mondego River amid the eucalyptus and pines, his parents and grandparents and their tight-knit community of potato farmers and tungsten miners, and the woman he loved—an unexpected polyphony of voices and places sounding in sharp counterpoint to debilitating pain.
By the Rivers of Babylon conjures the past and the present all at once, revealing the power of memory to embolden us in the face of extraordinary suffering. This is António Lobo Antunes’s homage to the beauty of a cherished life in its confrontation with imminent death.

António Lobo Antunes, born in Lisbon and trained as a psychiatrist, is the author of more than thirty books. He lives in Portugal. Margaret Jull Costa has been a literary translator for over thirty years. She lives in Leicester, UK.

“At work here in the fields of Joyce, Lobo Antunes uses a rolling, swirling syntax to capture the actual movements of human consciousness. His lightly punctuated sentences run forward and loop on themselves almost without pause, sweeping this reader along through an intense mental journey and leaving him amazed and enlightened. By the Rivers of Babylon is a remarkable literary accomplishment.”—Billy Collins

By the Rivers of Babylon is another stunning achievement by Lobo Antunes, expertly rendered by the multi-gifted Jull Costa. Reading this bold meditation on Eros and Thanatos you are firmly in the presence of permanence, of the great god Literature.”—William Giraldi, author of American Audacity

Praise for António Lobo Antunes:
“One of the living writers who will matter most.”—Harold Bloom
“A novelist of the very first rank.”—George Steiner
“A master navigator of the human psyche.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Perhaps Portugal’s greatest living author . . . a genius.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“One of the most skillful psychological portraitists writing anywhere.”—New Yorker
ISBN: 9780300233414
Publication Date: April 25, 2023
248 pages, 5 x 7 3/4
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