The Lisbon Syndrome

The Lisbon Syndrome

4.22 (51 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author)  , Translated by 

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A sudden catastrophe in Europe exposes the slow-motion destruction of a generation of Venezuelans and their struggle against repression.

In The Lisbon Syndrome, a disaster annihilates Portugal's capital. In Caracas, Lisbon's sister city and home to many thousands of Portuguese, few details filter through the censored state media.

Fernando runs a theater program for young people in Caracas, teaching and performing classics like Macbeth and Mother Courage. His benefactor, Old Moreira, is a childless Portuguese immigrant who recalls the Lisbon of his youth. Fernando's students suffer from what they begin to call "the Lisbon syndrome," an acute awareness that there are no possibilities left for them in a country devastated by a murderous, criminal regime. A series of confrontations between demonstrators and government forces draw the students and their teacher toward danger. One disappears into the state secret prisons where dissidents are tortured. The arts center that was their sanctuary is attacked, and Fernando is pulled into the battle in the streets.

The Lisbon Syndrome is the most trenchant contemporary novel to offer a glimpse of life and death in Venezuela. But Sánchez Rugeles's bleak vision is lightened by his wry humor, and by characters who show us the humanity behind stark headlines.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 184 pages
  • 140 x 208 x 15mm | 227g
  • United States
  • English
  • 1933527544
  • 9781933527543
  • 1,372,759

Review quote

"[The Lisbon Syndrome] celebrates...the power of stories to raise our awareness of the value of life in the midst of tragedies.... [The] novel offers many surprises right up to the end."
--Edward Waters Hood, World Literature Today

"The Lisbon Syndrome is very dark, but [with] underlying sense of hopefulness, a human spirit that still finds its way through.... [A]n effective portrait of contemporary Venezuela."
--M.A. Orthofer, The Complete Review

"The Lisbon Syndrome is a love song for two places, one that has vanished suddenly, another whose disappearance is unbearably slow. It's also a love song for the people who inhabited these places and keep fighting for them to the very end. Eduardo Sánchez Rugeles has written a courageous, beautiful novel."

―Rodrigo Hasbún, author of Affections

"The Lisbon Syndrome uses the notion of the apocalypse as a very explicit symbol, as a metaphor for a political debacle. Because if each human being is a universe, the world has ended once and again with each death. . . . The universes obliterated by the Venezuelan dictatorship cannot come back to life. Nevertheless, an apparent pessimistic view turns into a narration about the love for freedom and the ability to walk over ruins in order to protect it, to regain it, to own it."

―Keila Vall de la Ville, author of The Animal Days
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About Eduardo Sánchez Rugeles

Eduardo Sánchez Rugeles is a fiction writer, screenwriter, and teacher. His five previous novels are: Blue Label, winner of the Arturo Uslar Pietri award for Latin American literature and shortlisted for the Critics Award of Venezuela; Transylvania, Unplugged, shortlisted for the Arturo Uslar Pietri award; Liubliana, honorable mention, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Bicentennial Literary Award, and winner of the Critics Award of Venezuela; Jezebel; and Julián. He is cowriter of the films Opposite Direction, Jezebel, and The Consequences. He presently lives in Madrid.

Paul Filev is a Melbourne-based literary translator and editor who translates from the Macedonian and the Spanish. His translations include the novels Alma Mahler by Sasho Dimoski (Dalkey Archive Press, 2018), Blue Label by Eduardo Sánchez Rugeles (Turtle Point Press, 2018), and the anthology Contemporary Macedonian Fiction (Dalkey Archive Press, 2019).
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Rating details

51 ratings
4.22 out of 5 stars
5 47% (24)
4 33% (17)
3 16% (8)
2 2% (1)
1 2% (1)
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