on 12 January 2013
As the reviews of the english translation describe, this is a subtle and compelling book. The political situation in Lisbon in 1938 is seen through the eyes of Pereira and the reality is gradually revealed as his consciousness is awakened. The story builds to an effective and shocking climax.
Although this is a masterpiece of 20th century Italian literature, it is written in clear and straightforward prose and anyone with roughly an A level standard of Italian should find it fairly easy to read without too much recourse to a dictionary. (I tried to write this review in Italian but dealing with accents became too difficult!)
on 21 May 2014
I am an Italian learner and from this perspective the book is useful. The language is clear. Tabucchi writes in a concise and simple style. That is really why I have allocated 3 stars. But I struggled to get involved in the book. The book is set in Portugal under dictatorship whilst Spain is in civil war and Germany war mongering. The main character, Pereira, is a poor soul who lost his wife and has no children because when she was alive she was always sick. He misses his wife and continues to talk to a picture of her. He therefore evokes sympathy. But I didn't care for any other character. When Pereira helps a young man who is politically involved and begins to feel fatherly towards him, it is a real struggle to understand why since he is flimsy character with an unappealing girlfriend. The plot drifts along and while it all makes sense in the end, the author really does take his time getting there and he spends an awful lot of time describing what the main character eats and drinks and rather mundane aspects of life. I felt as if I really should have liked this book but really couldn't get into it.