Commission of Tears

Commission of Tears

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By António Lobo Antunes

Translated by Elizabeth Lowe

ISBN: 9781628975079

Publication Date: 7/30/2024


António Lobo Antunes’s twenty-fifth novel, Commission of Tears (2011, Comissão das Lágrimas) is set during the Angolan Civil War (1975-2002).

This is the story of Cristina, admitted in to a psychiatric clinic in Lisbon. In her torrent of memories, dialogues and traumatic episodes, Cristina remembers her early childhood in Africa, at the time when everything inside her head was intertwined with her father's voice, who was a former Black priest and became one of the torturers of the “Commission of Tears.” Cristina’s white mother, a cabaret dancer imported from Lisbon to entertain Portuguese farmers in Angola, marries the Black ex-priest because she finds herself pregnant with Cristina by the man who exploits her, the cabaret manager.

The long, twisting narrative weaves together the three voices of daughter, father, and mother as they recall the terrors of their life in Angola, and their own suffering. Their personal tragedies, scarred by racism and abuse, mirror those of the country that is being torn asunder around them.


“One of the living writers who will matter most” ― Harold Bloom

“Lobo Antunes, one of the most skillful psychological portraitists writing anywhere, renders the turpitude of an entire society through an impasto of intensely individual voices.” The New Yorker

Biographical Information

António Lobo Antunes was born in Lisbon, Portugal in 1942. He began writing as a child, but at his father's wishes, went to medical school instead of pursuing a career in writing. After completing his studies, Antunes was sent to Angola with the Portuguese Army. It was in a military hospital in Angola that Antunes first became interested in many of the subjects of his novels. Antunes lives in Lisbon, where he continues to write and practice psychiatry.