Pereira Transforms

Mohsin Hamid, on reading Antonio Tabucchi's novel, in the introduction to its new edition, at his own website:

ScreenHunter_09 Nov. 07 21.08 I am sometimes asked to name my favourite books. The list changes, depending on my mood, the year, tricks played by memory. I might mention novels by Nabokov and Calvino and Tolkien on one occasion, by Fitzgerald and Baldwin and E. B. White on another. Camus often features, as do Tolstoy, Borges, Morrison, and Manto. And then I have my wild card, the one I tend to show last and with most pleasure, because it feels like revealing a secret.

Sostiene Pereira, I say, by Antonio Tabucchi.

These words are usually greeted with one of two reactions: bewilderment, which is far more common, or otherwise a delighted and conspiratorial grin. It seems to me that Pereira is not yet widely read in English, but holds a heroin-like attraction for those few who have tried it.

My own Pereira habit began a decade ago, in San Francisco’s City Lights bookstore, where an Italian girlfriend suggested I give it a try. San Francisco was the perfect place for my first read: its hills and cable cars and seaside melancholy were reminiscent of Pereira’s Lisbon setting; its Italian heritage, from the Ghirardelli chocolate factory at its heart to the wine valleys surrounding it, evoked Pereira’s Italian author; and its associations with sixties progressivism and forties film noir went perfectly with Pereira’s politics and pace.

More here.