Cover image for The missing head of Damasceno Monteiro
The missing head of Damasceno Monteiro
Tabucchi, Antonio, 1943-2012.
Uniform Title:
Testa perduta di Damasceno Monteiro. English
Publication Information:
New York : New Directions, [1999]

Physical Description:
186 pages ; 21 cm
Added Author:
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When a gypsy finds a headless body, young tabloid journalist Firmino is eager to report the story and discovers that the dead man was an employee at an import-export company where he stumbled upon a heroin smuggling ring.

Author Notes

Antonio Tabucchi was born in Pisa, Italy on September 24, 1943. He studied literature and philosophy at the city's university. He was a writer and academic. He was professor of Portuguese literature at the University of Siena and the Italian Cultural Institute in Lisbon. His works include Piazza d'Italia, Piccoli Equivoci Senza Importanza (Little Misunderstandings of No Importance), Requiem, uma Alucinaçaõ (Requiem: A Hallucination), Tristano Muore (Tristan Is Dying), and Racconti con Figure. Many of his works were adapted into films including Sostiene Pereira (Pereira Maintains) and Notturno Indiano (Indian Nocturne). In addition to his fictional writing, he translated works by Fernando Pessoa and other Portuguese writers into Italian. He received numerous literary prizes including the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in France. In 1993, he was one of the founder members of the International Parliament of Writers and contributed articles to its journal, Autodafé. He died of cancer on March 25, 2012 at the age of 68.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved