Strangers I Know

Claudia Durastanti

£12.99

Kinetic, formally daring, and strikingly original, Strangers I Know is a funny and profound portrait of an unconventional family that makes us look anew at how language shapes our understanding of ourselves.

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ISBN: 9781913097837 Category: Tag:

Description

Every family has its own mythology, but in this family none of the myths match up. Claudia’s mother says she met her husband when she stopped him from jumping off a bridge. Her father says it happened when he saved her from an attempted robbery. Both parents are deaf but couldn’t be more different; they can’t even agree on how they met, much less who needed saving. Into this unlikely yet somehow inevitable union, our narrator is born. She comes of age with her brother in this strange, and increasingly estranged, household split between a small village in southern Italy and New York City. Without even sign language in common – their parents have not bothered to teach them – family communications are chaotic and rife with misinterpretations. An outsider in every way, she longs for a freedom she’s not even sure exists. Only books and punk rock – and a tumultuous relationship – begin to show her the way to create her own mythology, to construct her own version of the story of her life. Kinetic, formally daring, and strikingly original, Strangers I Know is a funny and profound portrait of an unconventional family that makes us look anew at how language shapes our understanding of ourselves.

‘Formally innovative and emotionally complex, this novel explores themes of communication, family, and belonging with exceptional insight. Durastanti, celebrated in Italy for her intelligent voice and her hybrid perspective, speaks to all who are outside and in-between. Strangers I Know, in a bracing translation by Elizabeth Harris, is stunning.’
— Jhumpa Lahiri, author of Whereabouts

‘Brave and deeply felt… Here the novel is not only a medium of illumination, but also a buoy cast into the dark waters of memory, imagination, and boldly embodied questions. In other words, it is my favourite kind of writing, the kind that not only tells of the world – but burrows through it, alive.’
— Ocean Vuong, author of On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous

‘Claudia Durastanti’s writing is lyrical and sharp, underpinned with a searching gaze that turns the everyday into something darkly beautiful. Every page feels totally, absorbingly alive.’
— Sophie Mackintosh, author of The Water Cure

‘A fluid meditation on the instability of the linguistic and cultural myths we build our identities around. I loved the language; I loved the tenor of it. It captivated me.’
— Jo Hamya, author of Three Rooms

‘The complex, overflowing, intelligent self of Durastanti collects the fragments of that family life that has moved in sparks between Italy and the United States and makes it a new mythology, a new, daring and dazzling look at what has been.’
— Giulia Caminito, Corriere Della Sera

‘Fans of Jenny Offill and Rachel Cusk will enjoy this unusual work of personal mythology.’
— Kirkus Reviews

There is much exquisite characterisation in Strangers I Know by Durastanti, as well as barbed and profound musings on the class system…’
— Buzz Magazine

‘Durastanti is a superb writer whose text is fluid, descriptions taut and original, whose whole novel gradually unfolds into a web of associations, possibilities and interwoven stories within stories that highlight how families, distant and near, misunderstand, confuse and love each other.’
— Rupert Loydell, International Times

Claudia Durastanti is the author of four critically acclaimed novels. A former Italian Fellow in Literature at the American Academy of Rome, she is a co-founder of the Italian Literature Festival in London. She writes for several literary supplements and is on the board of the Turin Book Fair. She is the Italian translator of Joshua Cohen, Donna Haraway, Ocean Vuong, and the most recent edition of The Great GatsbyStrangers I Know, a finalist for the Premio Strega in 2019, has been translated into twenty-one languages. She currently lives in Rome.

Elizabeth Harris’s translations from Italian include works by Mario Rigoni Stern, Giulio Mozzi, Antonio Tabucchi, and Andrea Bajani. For her various translations of Tabucchi, she has received an NEA Translation Fellowship, the Italian Prose in Translation Award, and the National Translation Award for Prose. She lives in Wisconsin.

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