In our new book club we will be reading Antonio Tabucchi’s most famous book called Sostiene Pereira.
Title: Sostiene Pereira
Author: Antonio Tabucchi
The author and the book
Born in 1943 in Pisa, Tabucchi was a prolific writer, translator from Portuguese and academic. He taught Portuguese literature at the University of Siena, specialising in the works of Fernando Pessoa. He travelled extensively, studied in France and used to spend half of the year in Portugal. In 1975 he published his first novel called Piazza D’Italia. He reached success with Notturno Indiano. This book was published in 1984, won a prize in France and it was made into a film.
He has also published:
Viaggi e altri viaggi
Piccoli equivoci senza importanza
Il tempo invecchia in fretta
Si sta facendo sempre piú tardi
Here are some sources where you can find more information about Tabucchi and his books:
The book is set in Portugal in the summer of 1938 during Salazar’s dictatorship.
Pereira is a journalist with a long-standing career who has recently taken a new job with the Lisboa. This is a minor conservative newspaper of catholic inspiration. Pereira is responsible for editing the cultural pages.
Pereira is mediocre, aging, lonely man. Having lost his wife early on, he regrets never having had children. He has medical problems and leads a simple, repetitive life. This man states that he is above politics and doesn’t get involved in it, shielding himself from all current events.
Pereira is obsessed the concept of death and one day he comes across a philosophical article on death written by a recent graduate called Monterio Rossi. Hence, he decides to meet him and during the meeting offers him a job at the paper.
Pereira soon realises that Rossi is anti-fascist, a subversive whose articles cannot be published in his paper due to censorship. Despite this, he helps the young man, pays his work with his own money. He even starts helping him and his anti-fascist friends, housing them and hiding them.
The young Rossi is ultimately perceived by Pereira as the child he never had. And Rossi, his girlfriend and his friends, ultimately, manage to wake Pereira from his indifference and apathy. In the end, the young Rossi is killed. At this point, Pereira takes action and writes an article denouncing the violence and the killing of Rossi. He manages to get it published in his paper and leaves the Country with a false passport.
Why read this book
Published in 1994, this book has become a classic of Italian literature, winning in the same year the prestigious prizes Campiello and Viareggio. Furthermore, this is the most famous book by Tabucchi and it was also made into a film with Marcello Mastroianni.
This deceptively straight forward story is filled with layers of meaning, humour and sharp character descriptions.
Written in an easy style, it is ideal for upper intermediate and advanced students wishing to read authentic material in Italian.
Quotes from the book:
“Stai bene a sentire, Pereira, disse Silva, tu credi ancora nell’opinione pubblica? Ebbene, l’opinione pubblica è un trucco che hanno inventato gli anglosassoni, gli inglesi e gli americani, sono loro che ci stanno smerdando, scusa la parola, con questa idea dell’opinione pubblica, noi non abbiamo mai avuto il loro sistema politico, non abbiamo le loro tradizioni, non sappiamo cosa sono le trade unions, noi siamo gente del Sud, Pereira, e ubbidiamo a chi grida di più, a chi comanda.”
“[…] la filosofia sembra che si occupi solo della verità, ma forse dice solo fantasie, e la letteratura sembra che si occupi solo di fantasie, ma forse dice la verità.”
“Pereira sostiene che uscì turbato da questo breve colloquio e dalla maniera in cui era stato congedato. Si chiese: in che mondo vivo? E gli venne la bizzarra idea che lui, forse, non viveva, ma era come fosse già morto. Da quando era scomparsa sua moglie lui viveva come se fosse morto. O meglio: non faceva altro che pensare alla morte, alla resurrezione della carne nella quale non credeva e a sciocchezze di questo genere, la sua era solo una sopravvivenza, una finzione di vita.”
How to join the book club
Join our book club! We read selected chapters of a given book and develop speaking in sessions moderated by a native teacher passionate about literature. Click if you wish to know how our book club works. Book your session here.