My rating: 4 stars
Certain books are set in such distinguishable periods in history that their authors needn’t have mentioned a particular year in order to create a sense of time. Afirma Pereira (Pereira Maintains in the English translation) by the Italian author Antonio Tabucchi is one of those novels. Set in Lisbon in 1938, it is a criticism of totalitarian states, censorship and repression.
The main character of this book is a journalist named Pereira, who had just become the editor of the cultural page of a third-rate newspaper. As he needed a contributor to help write anticipated obituaries, he contacted the young Monteiro Rossi, who had written a dissertation about death at university, a topic that was of particular interest to Pereira. Since the passing of his wife, Pereira was constantly musing on death.
Monteiro Rossi accepted to work for the newspaper. The articles he wrote were not what Pereira had in mind, though. His first obituary was about García Lorca, a writer that was considered to be subversive not only by Franco in Spain, but also by Salazar in Portugal. Therefore, it couldn’t be published. As Monteiro Rossi was counting on being paid to have money for food, Pereira invited him for lunch. Pereira was old enough to be his father. Maybe for that reason he started caring about what happened to him and to his girlfriend, Marta, who was too outspoken for a country oppressed by a dictatorship. Continue reading