cover image Message from the Shadows

Message from the Shadows

Antonio Tabucchi, trans. from the Italian by Anne Milano Appel et al. Archipelago, $18 trade paper (300p) ISBN 978-1-939810-15-1

The 22 elegant short stories in this posthumous collection highlight the international perspective, melancholy tone, humor, and compassion of Italian author Tabucchi (1943–2012). A scholar of Portuguese literature, Tabucchi writes about Portugal with wistful familiarity. In “The Reversal Game,” the narrator—a scholar of Portuguese literature—visits Lisbon after the death of a woman he secretly conspired with to help exiled Portuguese writers communicate with their families. Other narrators include a female impersonator in “Letter from Casablanca” and an eel fisherman turned murderer turned fado singer in “The Woman of Porto Pim.” In “Riddle,” an antique auto restorer drives a countess to Biarritz in her Bugatti. Settings include rural and urban Italy, Argentina, France, Greece, India, Portugal, and Spain. Reality and fiction, lies and illusions, overlap. In “The Flying Creatures of Fra Angelico,” fantastic beasts from another dimension model for the Renaissance painter. The dark ambiance of political repression infuses “Night, Sea, or Distance,” set in the last days of the Salazar regime, and “Islands,” where a prisoner asks a favor of a prison guard. The postscript describes mankind from the point of view of a whale. Despite multiple translators and works spanning three decades, Tabucchi’s intelligence and humane perspective shine throughout this thoughtful, noteworthy volume. [em](May) [/em]