The Natural Order of Things, by Antonio Lobo Antunes
This is a great book. The Boston Globe said that "it reads like William Faulkner or Céline . . . gorgeous . . . bedevilled and lyrical."
Using the poetic resources of language, this fantastically complex and compressed novel illumines Portugal of the last 100 years. An unnamed 50ish clerk in the National Tourism office falls in love with Yolanda, a diabetic teenager living with her crazy father, Domingos Oliveira, and her aunt, Dona Orquidea, in a working-class district of Lisbon.
The novel progresses through a series of monologues by the principal characters, mixing fantasy and fact in lyrical, impressionistic prose. It powerfully demonstrates the distortions inflicted upon history by secrecy and repression when, as in the Portugal of the '50s, brutality is sovereign.
The absurdity of the world, madness, hypocrisy on the one hand counterbalanced by the appeasement which the presence of the beloved woman brings are some recurring themes of his work.