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Celebrating Antonio Tabucchi

March 25th marks the first anniversary of Antonio Tabucchi‘s passing. Born in Pisa in 1943, he died in Lisbon, his adopted home, on the 25th of March, 2012. Regarded as one of the most innovative and important writers of postwar Europe, he was honored with numerous literary prizes, including the Prix médicis étranger, the Premio Campiello, the Premio Viareggio, and the Aristeion Prize.

It is a great honor to be publishing some of Tabucchi’s inspired work, including The Flying Creatures of Fra Angelico (translated by Tim Parks), The Woman of Porto Pim (available in early April, translated by Tim Parks), Time Ages in a Hurry (translated by Martha Cooley and Antonio Romani, to be released in 2014), and Tristiano is Dying, (to be translated by Elizabeth Harris).

Read Tabucchi’s obituary in The Guardian.

Read Robert Gray’s column about Tabucchi in Shelf Awareness.

From The Woman of Porto Pim

translated from the Italian by Tim Parks

“A Whale’s View of Man”

Always so feverish, and with those long limbs waving about. Not rounded at all, so they don’t have the majesty of complete, rounded shapes sufficient unto themselves, but little moving heads where all their strange life seems to be concentrated. They arrive sliding across the sea, but not swimming, as if they were birds almost, and they bring death with frailty and graceful ferocity. They’re silent for long periods, but then shout at each other with unexpected fury, a tangle of sounds that hardly vary and don’t have the perfection of our basic cries: the call, the love cry, the death lament. And how pitiful their lovemaking must be: and bristly, brusque almost, immediate, without a soft covering of fat, made easy by their threadlike shape which exudes the heroic difficulties of union and the magnificent and tender efforts to achieve it.

They don’t like water, they’re afraid of it, and it’s hard to understand why they bother with it. Like us they travel in herds, but they don’t bring their females, one imagines they must be elsewhere, but always invisible. Sometimes they sing, but only for themselves, and their song isn’t a call to others, but a sort of longing lament. They soon get tired and when evening falls they lie down on the little islands that take them about and perhaps fall asleep or watch the moon. They slide silently by and you realize they are sad.

Further reading:
The Flying Creatures of Fra Angelico (Archipelago), and It’s Getting Later All the TimeThe Missing Head of Damasceno MonteiroRequiem: A HallucinationThe Edge of the HorizonPeriera DeclaresIndian NocturneLittle Misunderstandings of No Importance, & Letter from Casablanca, available from New Directions

“Rereading: Pereira Maintains,” The Guardian

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