cover image Fado Alexandrino

Fado Alexandrino

Antonio Lobo Antunes. Grove/Atlantic, $22.5 (497pp) ISBN 978-1-55584-343-4

The Portuguese author of Elephant Memory and South of Nowhere makes no concessions to the reader in this dense and demanding work. Hundreds of pages elapse before settings, characters and events are explicitly identified; instead, the narrative progresses with Antunes recreating the thought processes of his four protagonists, who meet in their native Lisbon approximately 10 years after they have served a tour of duty in colonial Mozambique in 1970. The men reflect on their experiences there, on a subsequent revolution at home and on their personal histories as they spend a night in the company of five prostitutes--a night of revelations that ends in murder. Although Antunes, a practicing psychoanalyst, displays brilliance in the fluidity of his stream-of-consciousness and the complexity of his imagery (a stranger stares ``with the distant distraction of corpses at wakes, their smiles softened into the amiable indifference of portraiture''), the elusiveness of the plot will frustrate and bewilder most readers. (May)