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.
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 work in the high aesthetic mode, a historical novel cast in delicately evocative prose and filled with witty references to the great figures of modern European literature. In it Italians could examine their political consciences through an artful image of another country’s past. The pleasures to be had from Pereira Maintains are rich and varied, but best of all it’s very enjoyable.
—The New York Times
Pereira Maintains is small only in size. Its themes are great ones—courage, betrayal, fidelity, love, corruption; and its treatment of them is subtle, skillful, and clear. It’s so clear, in fact, that you can see a very long way down, into the heart of a flawed but valiant human being, into the sickness of a nation, into the depths of political evil. It’s the most impressive novel I’ve read for years, and one of the very few that feels truly necessary.