The Missing Head of Damasceno Monteiro

The Missing Head of Damasceno Monteiro

by Antonio Tabucchi
     
 

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A literary thriller of heroin rings and headless bodies uncovers social ills and corruption in modern day Portugal, whileas in all of Tabucchi's workblurring genre boundaries.
Antonio Tabucchi, Italy's premier writer and a best-selling author throughout Europe, draws together Manolo the gypsy, Firmino, a young tabloid journalist with a weakness for Lukacs and

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Overview

A literary thriller of heroin rings and headless bodies uncovers social ills and corruption in modern day Portugal, whileas in all of Tabucchi's workblurring genre boundaries.
Antonio Tabucchi, Italy's premier writer and a best-selling author throughout Europe, draws together Manolo the gypsy, Firmino, a young tabloid journalist with a weakness for Lukacs and Vittorini, and Don Fernando, an overweight lawyer with a professed resemblance to the actor Charles Laughton, to solve a murder that leads far up and down Portugal's social ladder. As the investigation leads deeper into Portugal's power structure, the novel defies expectations, departing from the formulaic twists of a suspense story to consider the moral weight of power and its abuse.

Editorial Reviews

Boston Review
Elegant, cosmopolitan, inventive, and disquieting....
Thomas Hove
His elliptical use of allusions lends this thriller's bare events an intriguing range of philosophical and political overtones.
Review of Contemporary Fiction
Bondo Wyszpolski
The missing head of the title doesn't go missing for very long, so obviously the book is after deeper fish, and is not simply a tale of lost and found...
Easy Reader
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As in his previous novel, the 1994 international bestseller Pereira Declares, Tabucchi, professor of Portuguese literature at the University of Siena in Italy, explores Portugal's politics and culture through the eyes of a journalist. This time his protagonist is Firmino, a young reporter who's also a literature student and whose lofty preoccupation with his academic thesis frequently conflicts with the more earthbound assignments his editor at a Portuguese national scandal-sheet demands. He travels, reluctantly, from Lisbon to the provincial town of Oporto to investigate the gruesome discovery of a headless body found on the edge of a Gypsy encampment. Firmino's sleuthing is assisted by antifascists--the Gypsy who discovered the body, a mysteriously well-connected hotel proprietress, a waiter and a sweaty, heavy-set aristocratic lawyer who defends the unfortunate. It is through literary discussions with the lawyer, Don Fernando, that Firmino learns the legal system of Oporto, the process of investigation and the role journalism can play in bringing a murderer to court. Tabucchi fills his contemporary literary thriller with the kinds of benevolent, humanitarian characters he explored in Pereira, which was set in pre-WWII Portugal; here he delves into the deplorable subjugation of the Gypsies, and finds champions of a just social order in the humbler strata: a transvestite prostitute, an errand-boy drifter. Tabucchi's memorable, conflicted characters are sometimes implausibly altruistic in helping outsider Firmino, and the plot involves the kind of requisite drug-trafficking/police cover-up that weakens the suspense of a thriller. However, it's Tabucchi's setting that breathes life into his work: the reader can almost feel the heat of the Iberian peninsula and experience along with Firmino the unique customs, foods and political climate of Oporto. (Feb.)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780811216043
Publisher:
New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publication date:
01/28/2005
Pages:
186
Sales rank:
739,019
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.60(d)

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