2nd March, 6.30
Please join us for a conversation between Claudia Durastanti and Tice Cin in celebration of the release of Claudia's new book, Strangers I Know (trans. Elizabeth Harris).
'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 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 Gatsby. Strangers I Know, a finalist for the Premio Strega in 2019, has been translated into twenty-one languages. She currently lives in Rome.
TICE CIN is an interdisciplinary artist from north London. A London Writers Award-winner, her work has been published by Extra Teeth and Skin Deep and commissioned by places like Battersea Arts Centre and St Paul’s Cathedral. Her debut novel, Keeping the House, was Burley Fisher's book of the year 2021.