“A twenty-first-century modernist heir to the narrative collage technique championed by such masters as Ferdinand Céline, William Faulkner, Gabriel García Márquez, James Joyce, Vladimir Nabokov, Thomas Pynchon, and Italo Calvino . . . [The Return of the Caravels] is the writing of a genius.”Alan Kaufman, San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
The Return of the Caravels
978-0-8021-3955-9 • $13.00 • Paperback • Feb. 2003
Called “hallucinatory and lyrical” (Publishers Weekly), The Return of the Caravels unfolds in Lisbon as Portugal’s African colonies gain their independence in the mid-1970s. In a contemporary response to Camões’s conquest epic The Lusiads, Antunes imagines Vasco da Gama and other heroes of Portuguese explorations beached amid the detritus of the empire’s collapse. Or is it the modern colonialswith their mixed-race heritage and uneasy place in the “fatherland”who have somehow ended up in sixteenth-century Lisbon? As da Gama begins winning back ownership of Lisbon piece by piece in crooked card games, four hundred years of Portuguese history minglethe caravels dock next to Iraqi oil tankers, and the slave trade rubs shoulders with the duty-free shops. The Return of the Caravels is a startling and uncompromising look at one of Europe’s great colonial powers, and how the era of conquest reshaped not just Portugal but the world.