When the Sun Never Shone on Lisbon Dec 30, 2008
I read this long novel in preparation for going to Lisbon. Imagine my surprise when I flew over the city and saw its estuary illuminated by sunshine. I don't remember encountering a ray of sunshine in the novel.
Lobo Antunes knows how to tell a story or in this case a set of interwoven stories. Five veterans of the Portuguese war in Mozambique (in many ways similar to the US "effort" in Vietnam) are together for a party ten years later. They are from different backgrounds, but share the common experience of the war althought in their separate ways. During the long, drunken night, the occasion turns violent.
The novel portrays the shadow side of everyday Portuguese lives as they were under the dictatorship of Salazar, including the disastrous \misadvemtire in Mozambique. No wonder Lobos Antuno set it during Portugal's long rainy season.
I found the novel engrossing as well as grim, mainly because of its detailed depiction of five Portuguese lives and at least as many neighborhoods. The novel enriched my experience of Lisbon by showing its underside, so that I knew that its beauty and old-fashioned charm are only part of the national story.
I read Fado Alexandrino in what seemed to be a well-translated English translation; Lobo Antunes is considered a master stylist in his own language.. He was recently awarded a top award at the International Book Fair in Guadalajara, Mexico. Not all his books and stories are this long or grey in tone.