An exquisitely small masterpiece of a novel, which does so much, and which too many people have not read but should.

Mohsin Hamid

Antonio Tabucchi

Antonio Tabucchi was born in Pisa in 1943 and died in Lisbon, his adopted home, in 2012. The son of a horse trader, he studied literature and philosophy before taking up writing himself. Over the course of his career he won France’s Medicis Prize for Indian Nocturne, the Italian PEN Prize for Requiem, and the Aristeion European Literature for Pereira Declares. A staunch critic of Italian ex-prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, he once said that “democracy isn’t a state of perfection, it has to be improved, and that means constant vigilance.”

cover image of the book Pereira Maintains

Pereira Maintains

Dr. Pereira is an aging, overweight, mostly lonely living the sunny life of an aesthete and gourmand—even while the menacing cloud of Fascism hangs over Salazarist Lisbon. He escapes facing the ominous times by translating French stories for a newspaper’s weekly culture page. “Are you living another world?” his exasperated friend Father Antonio asks him. “For goodness’s sake go and find out what’s happening around you.” When Pereira meets a young anti-Fascist writer, he is forced to break out of the shell of his own inhibitions.

“Tabucchi expertly chronicles Pereira’s ascent to consciousness,” wrote Publishers Weekly in a starred review. And it is his reluctant awakening that gives the novel its delightful, heroic power.

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cover image of the book The Edge of the Horizon

The Edge of the Horizon

Antonio Tabucchi’s The Edge of the Horizon is the story of a very unimportant death. Late one night, the body of a young man is delivered to the morgue of an Italian town. The next day’s newspapers report that he was killed in a police raid, and that he went by the obviously false name “Carlo Nobodi.” Spino, the morgue attendant on duty at the time, becomes obsessed with tracing the identity of the corpse: “Why do you want to know about him?” asks a local priest. “Because he is dead and I’m alive,” replies Spino. Antonio Tabucchi is a master of ambiguity and irony, an Italian writer as subtle as Calvino, as inventive as Eco. In this spare yet densely packed cautionary tale, Tabucchi reminds us (in his Author’s Note) that it is impossible to reach the edge of the horizon since it always recedes before us, but suggests that some people like the philosopher Spinoza (and his namesake Spino) “carry the horizon with them in their eyes.”

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cover image of the book It's Getting Later All the Time

It's Getting Later All the Time

In It’s Getting Later All the Time, an epistolary novel with a twist, Antonio Tabucchi—“internationally acclaimed as the most original voice in the new generation of Italian writers” (The Harvard Book Review)—revitalizes an illustrious tradition, only to break all its rules. Seventeen men write seventeen strangely beautiful letters—tender or rancorous—lonely monologues which move in circles, each describing an affair, and each desperate for a reply which may never come. The letters plunge the reader into an electric, timeless no-man’s-land of “this past that is always somewhere, hanging in shreds.” And at last, collecting all their one-sided, remorseful adventures into a single polyphonic novel, an 18th letter startlingly answers the men’s pleas: a woman’s voice, distant, implacable, yet full of sympathy. It’s Getting Later All the Time captures destinies which, though so varied in appearance, are at rock bottom all the same: broken. This is an anti-Proustian novel—time lost is lost forever: it is impossible to get back to the past no matter how it haunts the present. As Tabucchi remarked, “Broken time is a dimension you find lots of men living in . . . an ambiguous, impossible situation, because they are faced with a kind of remorse, a choice they never made.”

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cover image of the book The Missing Head of Damasceno Monteiro

The Missing Head of Damasceno Monteiro

by Antonio Tabucchi

Translated by J. C. Patrick

In this genre-bending thriller, Antonio Tabucchi, Italy’s premier writer, draws together a gypsy, a young tabloid journalist with a passion for Lukács and Vittorini, and an overweight lawyer with a professed resemblance to actor Charles Laughton, to solve a murder that leads far up and down Portugal’s social ladder. As the investigation delves deeper into this shadowy world, the novel moves beyond the traditional twists of a suspense story to consider the moral weight of power and its abuse. Tabucchi’s critique of the system of secrecy and torture that survives in civilized societies is both timely and chilling.

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cover image of the book Requiem: An Hallucination

Requiem: An Hallucination

In Requiem, one of his most evocative novels, Antonio Tabucchi takes the reader on a dreamlike trip to Portugal, a country to which he is deeply attached — he even chose to write the novel in Portuguese, and it had to be translated for publication in his native Italy. Requiem’s narrator has an appointment on a quay in Lisbon at twelve, and when that turns out to mean not noon but midnight, he has a long time to while away. As the day unfolds, he has many encounters: with a young junkie, a taxi driver who is not familiar with the streets, several waiters, a gypsy, a cemetery keeper, the mysterious lsabel, an accordionist — in all, almost two dozen people, both real and illusory. Finally he meets The Guest, the ghost of the long dead great poet Fernando Pessoa. Part travelogue, part autobiography, part fiction, and even a bit of a cook-book, Requiem becomes an homage to a country and its people, and a farewell to the past as the narrator lays claim to a literary forebear.

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Tristano Is Dying

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cover image of the book Pereira Declares

Pereira Declares

Salazar’s fascist Portugal in 1938 is part of the menacing cloud that hangs over Europe and Dr. Pereira is an aging, overweight, lonely, mostly retired journalist who doesn’t want to think about it. He escapes facing the ominous times by translating nineteenth-century French stories for the weekly Culture Page he edits for a Lisbon newspaper. He dwells on the past and over-indulges in heavily-sugared glasses of lemonade and omelettes aux fines herbes. “Are you living in another world, and you working for a newspaper?" his exasperated friend Father Antonio asks him. “Look here Pereira, for goodness sake go and find out what’s happening around you.”

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cover image of the book Indian Nocturne

Indian Nocturne

by Antonio Tabucchi

Translated by Tim Parks

Antonio Tabucchi describes his novella Indian Nocturne (winner of the Médicis Prize in its French translation) as “an insomnia” but also a journey… in which a Shadow is sought." In his provocatively elusive but totally compelling way, Tabucchi takes us along on a nightmarish trip through the Indian subcontinent, producing sensations by turns exotic, sensual, menacing, and oppressive, as the profound weight of an ancient culture settles on the unwary traveler. A doctor warns the nameless narrator: “A lot of people lose their way in India… it’s a country specially made for that.” At the end of the journey, it’s for the reader to decide if the narrator did in fact lose his way — or perhaps find it. Tabucchi’s stories, published by New Directions in two earlier collections, Letter from Casablanca and Little Misunderstandings of No Importance, have been called “triumphs of nuance and suggestion” (Chicago Tribune) and praised as “meticulously crafted… marked by wit, emotion, memory, and lost grandeur” (Publishers Weekly).

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cover image of the book Little Misunderstandings of No Importance

Little Misunderstandings of No Importance

The eleven short stories in this prize-winning collection pivot on life’s ambiguities and the central question they pose in Tabucchi’s fiction: is it choice, fate, accident, or even, occasionally, a kind of magic that plays the decisive role in the protagonists’ lives? Blended with the author’s wonderfully intelligent imagination is his compassionate perception of elemental aspects of the human experience, be it grief as in “Waiting for Winter,” about the widow of a nation’s literary lion, or madcap adventure as in “The Riddle,” about a mysterious lady and a trip in Proust’s Bugatti Royale.

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cover image of the book Letter from Casablanca

Letter from Casablanca

The eight stories contained in Antonio Tabucchi’s Letters from Casablanca introduce to an American audience a rising Italian writer (born 1943) whose intriguing narrative strategies make the reader an active participant in his work. Each story can be seen from at least two perspectives, and each protagonist can be seen as experiencing an objective “reality” or having his own imagined and quite possibly distorted view of events. Almost like a detective, the reader must try to puzzle out what has happened, what relationship X “really” has to Y. In “Dolores Ibarruri Sheds Bitter Tears,” is the mother’s report of her son’s happy childhood just a remembered mirage? Is life inside a Fitzgerald novel a game invented by the narrator of “The Little Gatsby,” or has the game indeed replaced any other reality? From the title story “Letter from Casablanca,” with its double and triple inversions of our expectations, to the final thoughts of “The Backwards Game,” where the author plays with the idea of reversing life and literature, the haunting theme of this remarkable and rewarding debut is: “Reality is unpleasant and you prefer dreams”––but modified in teasing counterpoint by the observation that “sometimes reality surpasses the imagination.” The author implies that many of the stories are “true,” but it is the reflecting and refining power of art and language which focuses seemingly random events into patterns of inevitability.

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An exquisitely small masterpiece of a novel, which does so much, and which too many people have not read but should.

Mohsin Hamid

Tabucchi’s prose creates a deep, near-profound and sometimes heart-wrenching nostalgia and constantly evokes the pain of recognizing the speed of life’s passing which everyone knows but few have the strength to accept.

Alan Cheuse, NPR

A masterpiece of compression.

Mohsin Hamid

Tabucchi has the touch of the true magician, who astonishes us by never trying too hard for his subtle, elusive, and remarkable effects.

The San Francisco Examiner

Ruminative, elegiac and mordantly funny, Mr. Tabucchi’s prose conjures a state between waking and dreaming.

The New York Times

His writing is cosmopolitan and sensual.

The Boston Review

He’s the most important prose writer in Italy since the death of Italo Calvino in 1985.

The New York Times

Winner of the 1991 Italian PEN Prize, this playful bagatelle, translated from the original Portuguese, is partly an homage to Portuguese culture, partly a mellow autobiographical fantasy.

Publishers Weekly

One of the most intriguing and appealing character studies in recent European fiction.

Kirkus Reviews
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