A profound and genre-defying work of literature about love, death, and illness from one of Portugal’s most celebrated writers
“One of the essential writers of our tormented times.”—Alberto Manguel, Times Literary Supplement
“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, António, 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 António Lobo Antunes’s homage to the beauty of a cherished life in its confrontation with imminent death.
António Lobo Antunes, born in Lisbon and trained as a psychiatrist, is the author of more than thirty books. He lives in Portugal. Margaret Jull Costa has been a literary translator for over thirty years. She lives in Leicester, UK.
Sign up to the Yale newsletter for book news, offers, free extracts and more
Strictly Necessary Cookies
Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings.
If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.