Cover image for The inquisitors' manual
The inquisitors' manual
Antunes, António Lobo, 1942-
Uniform Title:
Manual dos inquisidores. English
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Grove Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
435 pages ; 22 cm
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PQ9263.N77 M3613 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



An international best-seller and the novel that established Antunes's reputation in Europe, "The Inquisitors' Manual" is a rewarding and stunning piece of art that shows the damage tyranny does to each layer of society.

Author Notes

Lobo Antunes, a psychiatrist and a soldier in the Portuguese colonial wars in Angola, was born in Lisbon. "South of Nowhere", his second novel, published in 1980, became the center of controversy both because of its daring content and its novel structure. The action is very brief: it lasts only one night. The author tells a silent woman companion his frank impressions about his experience as a medical doctor in the war of liberation against Portuguese colonialism. In some passages, the novel makes allusion to The Lusiads and its allegorical intentions. It denounces with lucid sarcasm the failure of Portuguese colonization in Africa.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Antunes, in a remarkable novel, presents a portrait of life in Portugal under the dictator Salazar and what it was like to live through the 1974 revolution. In a murky, stream-of-consciousness tale told through the lives of a dozen or so characters, all interrelated in some way, he chronicles the decadence of Salazar's regime, the pathetic results of which are personified in the life of the main protagonist, Joao, the son of a powerful, egomaniacal minister in Salazar's government. Easily defrauded by his wealthy wife's family, Joao ekes out a miserable life. Equally miserable is the life of his half sister, Paula, the illegitimate daughter of Joao's father. Ostracized after the 1974 revolution, she seeks some recompense from her father, who she later learns has had a stroke and is living in a nursing home, with nothing left of his former glory. Antunes brings these characters to life through their own stories, from their own viewpoints, as he toggles between "reports" and "commentary" of the events and the thoughts behind them. A gripping tale of the struggle of people to live under an oppressive, omnipresent government, presented without any specific plot or coherent line of events. --Michael Spinella

Publisher's Weekly Review

Antonio de Oliveira Salazar is not the best known of 20th-century dictators, but he was as cruel and ruthless as any of them in his rule over Portugal from 1932 to 1968. In his 11th novel, Antunes (The Return of the Caravels; Act of the Damned) recreates the harrowing story of Salazar's regime, building gradually from the petty problems and thoughts of a host of characters, related in stream of consciousness, to blunt exposition of the inhuman inner workings and brutal violence of authoritarianism. An unseen contemporary inquisitor interviews a series of individuals, whose identities are gradually revealed to the reader. These shadowy characters stammer, lie to themselves and compulsively repeat phrases; occasionally, they are sarcastic to the questioner. The central figure is a minor eminence of the fascist government, Senhor Francisco, or "the Minister," whose triumphs and decline are narrated in fragmented and nonsequential fashion. Old, fat and abandoned by the Party as the novel begins, he is spending his last years in a hospital, derided by his nurses: "Time to go wee-wee, Senhor Francisco, time for wee-wee." The minister's son, Joao, is unambitious and simple, and Joao's illegitimate half-sister, Paula, is unattractive, jealous and vindictive, convinced her brother has cheated her out of her inheritance. Supporting characters include Titina, the minister's aging and vain housekeeper; Romeu, a slow-witted dreamer; Cesar, brutally beaten by plainclothesmen; Alice, who shares harsh recollections of Africa. Many of these speakers conjure up a collage of voices as they tell their stories, and the interviews become progressively more narrative, graphically describing the regime of Salazar. With this tapestry of harrowing testimonials, the supremely confident Antunes illuminates a dark corner of European history and produces a stunning piece of narrative art. Agent, Thomas Colchie. (Jan. 25) Forecast: Released just two months after Jos Saramago's The Cave (Forecasts, Nov. 4), this latest novel by Antunes may prompt reviewers to take stock of contemporary Portuguese literature. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In his 11th novel, Antunes (The Return of the Caravels), who trained as a psychiatrist, analyzes la Faulkner, Celine, and Proust the decadence and corruption of contemporary Lisbon after the collapse of his tiny nation's world empire. Confined to a nursing home in the wake of a stroke and now spoken to in baby talk, Senhor Francisco, former adviser to Portuguese dictator Salazar, sorts through the snarling entanglements of his life. His son, Joao, is a booby who is defrauded by everyone, and his illegitimate daughter, Paula, once fawned over, is ostracized for her father's part in the now-despised regime. Antunes's razor-sharp eye dissects the outsized shadow cast by this fallen minister of state in all of its paranoia-induced variations. Remarkable for its descriptive exuberance, this book is recommended for larger collections.-Jack Shreve, Allegany Coll. of Maryland, Cumberland (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.