By the Rivers of Babylon

António Lobo Antunes


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Yale University Press
27 June 2023
ISBN: 9780300233414
248 pages

From the publisher

Translated by Margaret Jull Costa

A profound and genre-defying work of literature about love, death, and illness from one of Portugal's most celebrated writers

"Little prepares one for this extraordinary book, in which each chapter, covering a single day, and lasting a single sentence, offers a teeming stream of consciousness. . . . Even pain is alive, and alive is the word for this book, alive and enduring."- Michael Autrey, Booklist

Incapacitated after the removal of a malignant tumor, the narrator, Antonio, spends his days in a Lisbon hospital enduring the humiliations of severe illness. As he drifts in and out of consciousness, he revisits fragments of his life and the people who passed through it. He recalls the village where he lived as a child near the Mondego River amid the eucalyptus and pines, his parents and grandparents and their tight-knit community of potato farmers and tungsten miners, and the woman he loved-an unexpected polyphony of voices and places sounding in sharp counterpoint to debilitating pain.

By the Rivers of Babylon conjures the past and the present all at once, revealing the power of memory to embolden us in the face of extraordinary suffering. This is Antonio Lobo Antunes's homage to the beauty of a cherished life in its confrontation with imminent death.