It is a sultry August at the very end of the twentieth century, and Tristano is dying. A hero of the Italian Resistance, Tristano has called a writer to his bedside to listen to his life story, though, really, “you don’t tell a life…you live a life, and while you’re living it, it’s already lost, has slipped away.” Tristano Dies, one of Antonio Tabucchi’s major novels, is a vibrant consideration of love, war, devotion, betrayal, and the instability of the past, of storytelling, and what it means to be a hero.
2016 NTA Winner in Prose: Tristano Dies: A Life | The American Literary Translators Association
Tristano Dies is a dark meditation on the approach of death in what he portrays as the difficult, even humiliating context of Italian culture today. Sometimes bitter but also frequently lyrical, this latest book by Tabucchi is deeply skeptical about the power of art to console the pangs of our mortality. Nevertheless, Tristano Dies is a powerfully engaging and beautifully written novel that may come in time to rank as one of this author's best.
— Charles Klopp, World Literature Today
[Tabucchi's] prose creates a deep, near-profound and sometimes heart-wrenching nostalgia and constantly evokes the pain of recognizing the speed of life's passing which everyone knows but few have the strength to accept...Wonderfully thought-provoking and beautiful.
— Alan Cheuse, NPR's All Things Considered
There is in Tabucchi's stories the touch of the true magician, who astonishes us by never trying too hard for his subtle, elusive, and remarkable effects.
— The San Francisco Examiner
The attraction here is not only a book which is laid out with grace and elegance, the Archipelago touch, but in Tabucchi's lovely style...
— Oliver Morton, Ralph Mag
[S]triking and slippery... Tristano's philosophizing is oak-solid, engaging, and often black-humored... Tristano is a great admirer of Borges, and this book evokes his wordplay as well as his eagerness to manipulate time and storytelling like taffy. An admirable if challenging reworking of the overworked themes of war-hero tales.
— Kirkus Reviews
Gorgeous if a challenge for those who want things plain, this will please smart readers ready to applaud the energized imagination of the late Italian master.
— Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal Reviews
Tabucchi’s novel — excellently translated by Elizabeth Harris — chronicles the jagged course of a man’s life while simultaneously reminding the reader of the urgency of time and the illusoriness of memory.
— Malcolm Forbes, Star Tribune
— Tony Malone, Necessary Fiction
Tabucchi’s prose swoons with a fatal, melancholic tone, consciousness puffing and draining, puffing and draining.
— Nathaniel Popkin, Cleaver Magazine
Gorgeous...this will please smart readers ready to applaud the energized imagination of the late Italian master.
— Library Journal
"Tabucchi’s sensuous and allusive prose dismantles our globalized moment and clears a space for Freedom to reside, in peace if not at ease. Elizabeth Harris’ translation expands the linguistic resources of fiction in English, much as the original text enriched the fictional landscape of Italy when it first appeared."
— Erik Noonan, Carte Blanche