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.
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.