Strangers I Know
Every family has its own mythology, but in this family the myths don’t 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.
Claudia comes of age with her brother in this strange, and increasingly estranged, household split between New York City and a village in southern Italy. Without even sign language in common, family communication is chaotic and rife with misinterpretation, by turns hilarious and devastating. Feeling like a stranger to those she loves most, Claudia longs for a freedom she’s not sure exists. She begins to create her own mythology, to construct her version of the story of her life.
Formally dazzling and spectacularly original, Strangers I Knowmakes us look anew at how language and family can shape our understanding of the world. A bestselling, award-winning sensation in Italy, it asks whether we can truly know anyone, including ourselves.
Claudia Durastantiis the author of four critically acclaimed novels. Strangers I Know(La straniera) won the Premio Pozzale Luigi Russo and the Premio Strega Off, and was a finalist for the Premio Strega. Durastanti is a former Italian Fellow in Literature at the American Academy in Rome, and one of the founders of the Italian Literature Festival in London. She has written for Granta, Bomband the Los Angeles Review of Books, and is the Italian translator for Ocean Vuong and the most recent edition of The Great Gatsby, among others. For now, she lives in Rome.
‘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 a stunning English-language debut.’ Jhumpa Lahiri
‘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