Interview with António Lobo Antunes at El Pais

El Pais has a long interview with António Lobo Antunes about his writing practices and how he has developed his style. It also mentions that since September when he finished his last book he has not been able to write anything new.

P. Siempre dice que los libros incluyen su propia clave para entenderlos y disfrutarlos. ¿Este suyo último también?

R. Uno tiene que entrar en un libro sin ideas preconcebidas. Mientras lees -a mí me encanta leer, que es un placer absoluto, no como escribir, que a veces no lo es-, mientras lees, decía, tienes que conservar una virginidad en la mirada. No se debe ir con prejuicios a cuestas. A veces se puede tener la sensación de no entender nada, y eso está bien porque luego, súbitamente, uno entiende todo: lo oscuro se vuelve claro.

P. ¿No le preocupa que esto no pase siempre, que algunos lectores de sus libros, difíciles siempre, se rindan y lo dejen?

R. Mientras uno escribe no puede pensar en el lector. Si le haces guiños al lector, el libro resulta malo. He hablado mucho con Juan Marsé (un amigo mío que me gusta mucho como escritor, cuya última novela, Caligrafía de los sueños, me parece una maravilla) de que no se puede transigir en eso. Uno tiene que hacer lo que tiene que hacer con la novela. Y si al lector le gusta, mejor. Y si no le gusta…

Interview with Antonio Lobo Antunes at the Paris Review

The Paris Review has an interview with Antonio Lobo Antunes who talks mostly about his experience in the war in Angola and the difficulty of writing about the war during the dictatorship, and specifically the book The Land at the End of the World.

Your author bio mentions that you were trained as a psychiatrist and served as a military doctor in Portugal’s war in Angola before becoming a writer. This experience seems to be at the heart of The Land at the End of the World, which takes the form of the soul-baring rant of a Portuguese war veteran honing in on a sexual conquest in a late 1970s Lisbon nightclub. How do you see this novel now, which has since been acclaimed as a literary masterpiece on the absurdities and wretchedness of war?

I started that book more than thirty years ago, as a very young man. In the first versions, there was no war at all. In many ways, it’s impossible to speak about the war directly. For me, it was a personal matter. When I arrived in Africa I looked up at the sky and said, “I don’t know these stars. Where am I? What am I doing here?” I just wanted to return alive. I remember we kept calendars and would cross off each day that we were still alive! I’ve talked to people who were in the Vietnam War, the Algerian War, and I’ve understood them perfectly. You can’t say these things to your wife or your son because they won’t understand it. It’s too strange an experience. It’s unreal.

So I never set out to write a book about the war. I was very interested in the relationship between the man who speaks and the woman who listens. I was drawn to the idea that the relationship between a man and a woman can be something like a war itself, very cruel and violent. And then I realized that if I included some things about what happened in Africa, it would provide a powerful counterpoint to their story. I suppose the narrator of the book is trying to use the tales of war to seduce the woman—he believes that women are weak when it comes to these things. I was surprised by the solitude of this character, this lonely and miserable man. The book is about a very personal vision of hell.

António Lobo Antunes: If I Could Only Choose One Author, It Would Be Me

I was watching a good interview (Spanish only) with António Lobo Antunes on RTVE’s Pagína 2 and he said something I’ve never heard an author say. Perhaps some do, but it seems it would be bad form to say it public these days. When asked if there were writers he had identified with he eventually says,

If I could choose only one writer besides myself, it would be Quevedo.

Si yo pudiera eligir sol un escritor aparte de mi, eligir Quevedo.

While it seems strange to my ears, why shouldn’t a writer like their own work. Americans are taught a certain modesty about bragging and it is bad form to say you are the best or most interesting writer. However, after working on a piece for sometime I find it a little tiresome, even if it is good.

Lobo Antunes to Write Only One More Novel

EL PAÍS notes that António Lobo Antunes is going to stop writing after his next novel.

António Lobo Antunes announced yesterday that he will write a novel to “round out his works” and that after he will not publish anything more. In the declaration published yesterday by Diário de Notícias, the Portuguese writer confirmed that after Que Cavalos São Aqueles Que Fazem Sombra no Mar?, the book he is finishing now and will publish in October, he will begin another novel that he thinks he will finish after two you years of work and then after “that will be the end of novels, articles, everything; I will not publish anything more. My voice, spoken or written, will not be heard again. “

António Lobo Antunes anunció ayer que escribirá una novela para “redondear su obra” y que después no publicará más. En unas declaraciones publicadas ayer por Diário de Notícias, el escritor luso afirma que tras Que Cavalos São Aqueles Que Fazem Sombra no Mar?, el libro que está terminando y publicará en octubre, empezará una novela que calcula que le llevará dos años de trabajo y que luego “se acabaron las novelas, las crónicas, todo, no publico nada más. Mi voz, hablada o escrita, no se volverá a escuchar”.

Sad if it is true, but I wonder how can one know they only have one more novel left in them.