The inquisitors' manual

by António Lobo Antunes

Hardcover, 2003




New York : Grove Press, c2003.


An international best-seller and the novel that established Antunes's reputation in Europe, "The Inquisitors' Manual" is a rewarding and stunning piece of art that shows the damage tyranny does to each layer of society.

User reviews

LibraryThing member lriley
'Time to go wee-wee, Senhor Francisco' say the nurses of a rest home to the once very powerful ex-minister of Salazar's fascist dictatorshop--the now feeble and voiceless victim of a stroke. To read any of Lobo Antunes books is to enter a surreal world most often caricatured and grotesque. Lobo is often compared to Celine--a writer he idolizes--but one can just as easily compare him to Faulkner or Goytisolo or Claude Simon. There is something really barbed in these depictions of his native Portugal that really remind me in a way of Goytisolo in books like 'Marks of Identity' but especially 'Count Julian' only Lobo's work is even more fleshed out--more ribald. There certainly is more humor--one cannot picture almost any scene of his without bursting out with laughter at some point --even the most pitiful and there are many that are. Portraits of militaristic 19th century ancestors glower down from mildewed walls at 20th century failures eating unhealthy greasy food surrounded by another centuries cheap and tawdry gewgaws while 6'3" and hairy legged transvestites fight it out outside the door with winos and rabid dogs for sleeping privelidges on the stoop. Lobo has a lot to say about his country and he certainly isn't a flag waver. This Senhor Francisco rules his farm like an absolute tyrant in the process destroying the only relationship (with his wife) that means anything to him--thereafter forcing himself on any female body that gets near him when he feels like it and neglecting and turning his son who is good-natured into a sap that the rest of the family will cheat and steal blind. Senhor Francisco has the power of life and death and is not afraid to use it. He even comes to think at one point that the crows outside are mocking him and when they won't obey him and shut up he brings in a detachment of soldiers armed with machine guns and begins a great slaughter of birds. Lobo Antunes is an excellent writer who writes with verve and a ferocious and a extremely sharp and sarcastic wit. He was rumored and expected by some to win the Nobel the same year that his fellow Portugese Jose Saramago did. I have read both and like Saramago a lot and I think of him as a good choice. I like Lobo Antunes even better.… (more)
LibraryThing member -Eva-
An unseen contemporary inquisitor interviews a plethora of characters who tell the story of Senhor Francisco, powerful state minister and personal friend of Salazar, and his family during the regime of Portugal's authoritarian regime, Estado Novo, through the Carnation Revolution and to its aftermath. Before saying anything else, I have to start with a caveat: although the story and its characters are quite engaging in and of themselves, a little bit of knowledge about Portuguese history is needed to fully appreciate the what Antunes is aiming for here (nothing too daunting is needed - a spin around Wikipedia should be enough). That said, it's still not an easy read; Antunes style is convoluted at best and even if it evokes some haunting images for the reader, it can also get downright confusing - some passages need to be reread once it's clear who actually narrates that particular paragraph. To make things even harder, all narrators sound very alike, though I don't know whether this is due to the translation or if it is the same in the original Portuguese - I have noticed some places where the translation uses Portuguese syntax which makes the read a little clumsy, so it may be the same with the voices. This is a very bleak novel and its characters either lean toward the despicable or toward the pathetic and had it not been for the high quality of the writing, it'd be a tough sell indeed. As it is, I will absolutely read more of Antunes' œuvre, but I'll try to find something with another translator.… (more)


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