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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars experiences of Portugal's war in Angola - and a unique narrative voice, 23 July 2011
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A doctor who has seen military service in Portugal's was in Angola recollects his experiences there (and to some extent both more recent events and those of his childhood).

Lobo Antunes writing (as translated and I assume in Portuguese) comes in long setences full of unexpected twists, turns, metaphors, similes. To give one shortened example from the second page: "The zoo's restaurant - was usually full, in equal quantities, of parties of day-trippers and impatient mothers, who shooed away with their forks balloons that drifted about like absentminded smiles trailing bits of twine behind them, like a Chagall bride trailing the hem of her dress".

If you are up for this - and I found it rewarding and possible to read through it to the content - it's a compelling read about an unforgettable set of experiences so traumatic that the narrator cannot successfully resume life in Lisbon...

I would strongly recommend this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a modern literary classic of war and its devastating human effects, 3 Dec 2011
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Angus Jenkinson "angusjenkinson" (Cambridgeshire, England) - See all my reviews
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In the beautifully translated slim volume of Antonio Lobo Antunes', The Land at the End of the World, an indictment of war, I feel have discovered a new country of immense power and sad beauty. It is not just the country in which the story is set, the benighted land of Angola and its colonial war, about which this ruined remnant of a doctor pours forth his feelings. No, it is the writing and the vivid intelligence that excludes from every sentence.

Antunes has been compared to Faulkner, Proust, Joyce, Cormac McCarthy, Malcolm Lowry, and I would add Conrad and Herman Melville. To be hailed in such circles implies a great writer, and Antunes does not disappoint. Moreover, as another critic observed, anyone compared so diversely must be an original voice. This immensely rich novel is a single heartfelt bitter poetic monologue by a former doctor in the Portuguese army whose life has been poisoned by the experience of the colonial war in Angola. It is an outpouring of rancour and pain and wisdom and yearning for love to an unknown woman met in a bar, rather as the Ancient Mariner seizes on the guests at the wedding party.

The story begins in media res, the doctor already in full flight, and proceeds via the lush language of the novel to evoke the rank emptiness and horror of the war, and consequential failed marriage, wasted life and unsuccessful sexual communion with the woman.

But one reads it for the extraordinary language. Take a sentence (at complete random): "Have you ever noticed how at this hour of the night and with the amount of alcohol in your blood, the body begins to emancipate itself from you, refusing to light your cigarette, grasping your glasses with a certain tactile clumsiness, wondering about inside your clothes with a certain gelatinous fluidity?" (P 58). Sometimes, a single sentence might stretch over several pages, wandering between past memories and present moments, digressions and descriptions, wisdom and bafflement, like the lost, haunted soul who speaks them. As a reader, as a reader one hesitates between delicious enjoyment of the language and sorrow in the in the rank and awful horrors that is mankind in stupid war.

The first English edition hardback is a handsome collectable volume, enjoying high-quality paper with rough hand finished edges.
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The Land at the End of the World: A Novel
The Land at the End of the World: A Novel by Margaret Jull Costa (Paperback - 31 July 2012)
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