2016 IPTA Shortlist: Tristano Dies: A Life, by Antonio Tabucchi, trans. by Elizabeth Harris

Tristano Dies: A Lifetristano_dies_cover
By Antonio Tabucchi
Translated from the Italian by Elizabeth Harris
(Archipelago Books)

Antonio Tabucchi’s Tristano Dies unfolds in the form of an apparent interview, though all readers have access to is a single voice, which ranges across topics and years, circling around a dying Italian Resistance hero’s heroism and lack thereof. A verbal performance in the manner of Bohumil Hrabal or Vladimir Nabokov, the book showcases a mind in thought and the verbal presentation of self that takes that thought into the world. The shaping and delivery of words in combination is thus paramount, and Elizabeth Harris’s English translation masterfully mimics the book’s oral façade, displaying sensitivity, creative range, and stylistic control over the book’s rampant fragmentation, digression, and shifting perspectives and times. The result is fascinating and hypnotic.

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