LIVE from the NYPL: What Can I Do When Everything's On Fire? António Lobo Antunes in conversation with Paul Holdengräber

September 23, 2008

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In What Can I Do When Everything's On Fire?, the preeminent Portuguese novelist António Lobo Antunes, who trained as a psychiatrist and spent four year in the Portuguese army during the Angolan War, tells a story of sanity lost, of madness and consumption. This is a saga of growing old, of loving no matter what, and finally of a young man ineluctably coming to terms with the sins of his father and the life he has inherited now.

Based on a real life story and set in the steamy world of Lisbon's nightclub milieu of the 1990s "a baleful planet populated by drag queens, clowns, and drug addicts" the son of a legendary transvestite searches for his identity as he recalls the harrowing death of his father. The razor-thin line between reality and madness is fully transgressed in Lobo Antunes's first novel to appear in English in five years.

About António Lobo Antunes

António Lobo Antunes is the author of 18 novels, including Act of the Damned and The Natural Order of Things. His work has been translated into more than 20 languages. Lobo Antunes? first novel was Memory of an Elephant. His more recent novels are The Inquisitors? Manual, about life during the Salazar dictatorship, and The Return of the Caravels, about the breakup of Portugal's colonial dominion in the 1970s. Lobo Antunes has received numerous literary awards, such as the Jerusalem Prize for the Freedom of the Individual in Society and the Camões Prize, the most important literary prize for the Portuguese language. He lives in Lisbon.



About Paul Holdengräber

Paul Holdengräber is the Director of Public Programs, known as "LIVE from the NYPL", for The Research Libraries of The New York Public Library.