'Requiem' is subtitled 'A Hallucination', and certainly its logic is that of the dream, the reverie, and intoxication. The narrator, apparently unmoored in time, makes his way through a Lisbon that seems to be populated by the dead and the fictional, guided only by his memory and tethered ultimately to a midnight appointment with the shade of a deceased writer - unnamed, but understood to be Fernando Pessoa, the most significant Portuguese writer of the twentieth century and a consummate artist of divided identity, nostalgia and regret. As he drifts towards this meeting, the protagonist eats, sleeps and drinks in the company of a variety of characters who together form a composite portrait of the author's experience of Portugal through the filter of his fascination with Pessoa.
This short novel has received largely positive notices since its appearance in 1991 (the translation by Margaret Jull Costa dates from 1994). I found it diffuse and rather underwhelming in its combination of fiction, fantasy, cookbook - the book is full of Portuguese regional recipes - and autobiography. The Italian Tabucchi clearly loves his adopted Portugal and knows his Pessoa, but this novel feels emotionally underpowered - a fault in a book that is held together only by mood - and the games that Tabucchi plays with identity and time seem thinly motivated. Still worth reading: but the uncommitted may wonder what the fuss is about.