Antonio Tabucchi, Italian writer and academic, was born in Pisa in 1943 and died in 2012, in Lisbon, his adopted home, where he lived six months a year. The son of a horse trader, he studied literature and philosophy before taking up writing himself, and then he combined his writing with a variety of academic posts, and was professor of Portuguese literature at the University of Siena. In Lisbon he was also director of the Italian Cultural Institute. Over the course of his career he won France’s Medicis Prize for Indian Nocturne, the Italian PEN Prize for Requiem, and the Aristeion European Literature for Pereira Declares, that was adapted to cinema in 1995 in a film with Marcello Mastroianni. In addition to his fictional writing, Tabucchi translated Fernando Pessoa and other Portuguese writers into Italian.
In the aftermath of the controversy following the publication of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses (1988), Tabucchi was one of the founder members, in 1993, of the International Parliament of Writers, an organization that highlights censorship and incursions into writers’ freedom around the world. A staunch critic of Italian ex-prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, he once said that “democracy isn’t a state of perfection, it has to be improved, and that means constant vigilance.” Tabucchi’s writings have been translated into 40 languages. He was married to the Portuguese translator and critic Maria José de Lancastre, and had two children.