Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Book Review: "Pereira Declares: A Testimony" by Antonio Tabucchi

This has been a totally enthralling read!

The narrative is simple and the tone of the narrator is calm, if a little tongue-in-cheek. But the story grabs you from the first page right through the end. This is not a thriller though. It is just the story of a certain period in an ordinary middle-aged widower’s life, set in authoritarian Portugal in the 30s (circa the Spanish Civil War period). It so happens that during that period he meets two idealistic anarchist youngsters, and his life and his worldview are turned upside down.

What makes the novel so compelling is that it is a stinging reminder of the egregiousness of a police state and government censorship and oppression. It sends a loud message that we, whatever our nationality, must all be vigilant, lest history repeats itself. After all, what civilized human would want to be in Pereira’s shoes, living like a zombie and blighting an instinctive sense of right and wrong?

It is not that long ago that Portugal finally came out of the devilish shadows of a corporatist authoritarian regime, which lasted for 48 years and ended with the 1974 Carnation Revolution. Who knows, had there been a greater number of "converted Pereiras", perhaps the Salazar police state would have ended much quicker.

I would highly recommend this book to all who truly love Hong Kong!

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