Message from the Shadows


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Book Description

“It’s difficult to say what my shadow world is made of and what it means. It’s like a dream you know you are dreaming, that’s where its truth lies: in its being real beyond the real. Its structure is that of an iris, or rather of fleeting gradations, already gone while still there, like time in our lives.” – Antonio Tabucchi

These twenty-four timeless stories in Message from the Shadows sift through Antonio Tabucchi’s shadow world. Here, characters step into new dreams with ease, open their mouths to swallow the sky, and idle whales ponder the fragile state of mankind. At times, Tabucchi’s world spins toward a single fate: a young boy’s lament is said to gather eels to the shore, or a woman in a cotton dress sings, “I was left with a handful of air” and a young man follows her curious echo. In crackling, tender prose, Tabucchi illuminates the small joys and laments of ordinary people. In these stories, time staggers, straddling the narrow gap between dream and reality. With each brilliant glimpse, we find ourselves examining trees, evening shadows, train journeys, and wrinkled faces of a shared world with fresh eyes.

A surprising tranquility pervades the stories, and it's to Tabucchi's great credit that they never feel muted...The melancholy tunes that fill the pages of Message from the Shadows are enigmas of longing, signals woven in the air that fade and disappear and leave only hunger in their wake...Tabucchi's generally incantatory prose here assumes a heightened air of ritual; the power of inexpressible sorrow becomes a dark vortex, vaguely barbaric in its strength.
Bailey Trela, The Threepenny Review

Tabucchi's stories — translated from Italian by Martha Cooley, Frances Frenaye, Elizabeth Harris, Tim Parks, Antonio Romani, and Janice M. Thresher, and published posthumously — drip with longing and, too, with a dreamlike quality that is tempting to characterize as magical realism. In these stories, the world as we know it and its author's "shadow world" are often indistinguishable — to the reader's great benefit.
Thrillist, Best Books of 2019

One could call him a great literary defender of the oppressed and marginalized (political prisoners or revolutionaries are among his stock figures), but he does not so much defend them, in the moralistic, paternalistic sense, as allow them a voice... Tabucchi delights in the metatheatricality of writing: more often than not the narrators in this collection are conscious of their role as storytellers, and are writing or speaking as if to a silent companion – a position that is filled by the reader. As a result, even the tamer stories feel on the verges of reality...
Samuel Graydon, The Times Literary Supplement

A career-spanning story collection from Tabucchi ... exploring the liminal spaces between dream and waking, fact and fiction. ... A fine tribute to a writer defined by his singular command of mood and mystery.

Kirkus Reviews

The 22 elegant short stories in this posthumous collection highlight the international perspective, melancholy tone, humor, and compassion of Italian author Tabucchi ... Tabucchi’s intelligence and humane perspective shine throughout this thoughtful, noteworthy volume.

Publishers Weekly, starred review

[Tabucchi's short stories] are modest and humane, sober but playful even as he meditates on the heartbreaking passage of time... Tabucchi is a master of the form in imagination, beauty, scope, and scale even at the tiniest calibration.
Kerri Arsenault, Literary Hub

Tabucchi’s work is mesmerizing, with the gentle rhythms of his lush, languid prose always carrying a light melancholy, walking the fine line between our world and what he called his shadow world. Some might call it magic realism, but the experience is more akin to lucid dreaming—something of which his hero, Fernando Pessoa, would be proud.
John Maher, Publishers Weekly

A legendary Italian author with a deep love for Portugal
Translated Lit

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