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A masterful collection about intimacy, loneliness, and time, each inspired by different works of art, spanning the entirety of the great Italian writer's career.
In Stories with Pictures, Antonio Tabucchi responds to photographs, drawings, and paintings from his dual homelands of Italy and Portugal, among other European countries. The stories in this collection spring forth from the shadows of Tabucchi's imagination, as he steps into worlds just hidden from view. From inscrutable masks of pre-Columbian gods, stamps of bright parrots and postcars of yellow cities, portraits of devilish Portuguese nuns, the way to these remote landscapes appear like a "train emerging from a thick curtain of heat." As we peer through the curtain, what we find on the other side rings distinctly human, a world charged with melancholic longing for time gone by. "Sight, hearing, voice, word" Tabucchi writes, "this flow isn't in one direction, the current is back and forth." Reading these stories, one feels the pendulum current, and the desire in this remarkable author to hold the real in the surreal.
About the Author
Antonio Tabucchi was born in Pisa in 1943 and died in Lisbon in 2012. A master of short fiction, he won the Prix Médicis Étranger for Indian Nocturne, the Italian PEN Prize for Requiem: A Hallucination, the Aristeion European Literature Prize for Pereira Declares, and was named a Cheavlier des Artes et des Lettres by the French Government. Together with his wife, Maria José de Lancastre, Tabucchi translated much of the work of Fernando Pessoa into Italian. Tabucchi's works include The Flying Creatures of Fra Angelico (Archipelago), The Woman of Porto Pim (Archipelago), Little Misunderstandings of No Importance, Letter from Casablanca, and The Edge of the Horizon (all from New Directions). About the Translator: Elizabeth Harris translates contemporary Italian fiction. Her translated books include mario Rigoni Stern's novel Giacomo's Seasons, Giulio Mozzi's story collection This is the Garden, and Antonio Tabucchi's novels Tristiano Dies and For Isabel: A Mandala (both Archipelago books). For her various translations of Tabucchi, she has won a PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant, The Italian Prose in Translation Award, an NEA Translation Fellowship, and the National Translation Award.
"Stories With Pictures blazes with a love of color, light and the ineffable glory of the visible world . . . Each short item, translated with a glowing verbal palette of her own by Elizabeth Harris, responds to a single artwork via different forms . . . [Tabucchi] rejects the idea that we must choose between illusion and reality. Art, though his lens, escapes “the binary universe to which Nature compels us.” . . . If Tabucchi’s terrace looks out into art’s wide blue yonder, it also frames a mirror to the soul." - Boyd Tonkin, The Wall Street Journal
"Tabucchi's stories...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
"Tabucchi is a master of the form in imagination, beauty, scope, and scale even at the tiniest calibration." - Kerri Arsenault, Lit Hub
"Harris’s translation skillfully renders into English Tabucchi’s lyricism . . . . These frequently hypothesizing, fantastical works explore questions that remain urgently relevant, including ones about borders, national identity, and access to knowledge." -Saskia Ziolkowski, Reading in Translation
"[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
"[Tabucchi] has written a masterpiece collection . . . Stories with Pictures is a book for artists and art-lovers of all mediums . . . Each [piece] seems to say something new and important about life and the often-unnoticed impact that art, in any form, has in shaping us." - The Arkansas International
"In her deft, lyrical translation, Elizabeth Harris captures the multi-layered complexity of Tabucchi's prose, from Joycean rapture to darker musings, in a novel that is once a tribute to experimental narrative and a meditation on Contemporary Italy." - Michael F. Moore, Chair of the PEN/Heim Translation Fund
"Tabucchi's writing is, above all, an artifice, a self-referring stem whose decodification demands a previous knowledge of the intellectual and artistic coordinates of the writer. Tabucchi is one of the most careful observers and original interpreters of the narrative and esthetic tendencies which emerged in Europe during the last two decades." - Anthony Costantini, World Literature Today
"Tabucchi is always a disturbing writer. He understands that life (and art) is filled with plots, omens, secrets." - Irving Malin, Review of Contemporary Fiction
"Antonio Tabucchi is one of the leading European writers, a man whose new works are eagerly anticipated, and who is widely translated across the continent and beyond. An Italian whose second home is Portugal he writes elegant and clever little books, stories and short novels that are deceptively simple yet manage to pack a great deal in relatively few pages." - The Complete Review