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This interview is taken from PN Review 172, Volume 33 Number 2, November - December 2006.

António Lobo Antunes in conversation translated by John Pilling Raphaëlle Rérolle
Translated from the French by John Pilling

Now and then he looks at himself in the mirror in disbelief: 'António Lobo Antunes, that's you, don't you realise that's you?' There is irony and a wry playfulness, but also anguish, in Antunes when he takes on the role of 'great writer' which his books have conferred on him. It is on the basis of a considerable body of work expressed in a very distinctive style that, at 63, Antunes occupies a secure place in contemporary literature. Yet he is more than ready to accept, given the chance fluctuations in estimates of this kind, that his prose will disappear into oblivion. In the meantime he writes furiously ('It's the only way I know'), offering his readers a difficult, tormented world in which a profoundly tragic view of existence is bound up with a liveliness of feeling and paradoxical shafts of hope. All of which takes place in a mode gravitating further and further from the conventional novel in the direction of a poetic architecture, as evidenced by his most recent book Bonsoir des choses d'ici-bas (published by Christian Bourgois in a translation by Carlos Batista).

RAPHAËLLE RÉROLLE : You began by writing novels, then your books moved outside fictional norms, and now seem close to poetry. What would you now call them?

ANTÓNIO LOBO ANTUNES: I don't precisely know how to situate them, not at all. The last, Bonsoir... , I call a ...

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