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.
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.
Reading this is like having a buzzed after-dinner conversation with a mind too brilliant to get into nuts and bolts. And yet the streamlike writing, spliced by endless commas, contains a charm that shines through the monochrome.