On the Italian Riviera, a wounded young man rediscovers his appetite for life through the intervention of a fugitive soccer celebrity, in the heartwarming second novel from award-winning writer Pasulka.
Unusually, Pasulka (A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True, 2009) not only introduces a lot of soccer into her love story, but also narrates it from a male perspective, that of 22-year-old Etto, son of the village butcher in San Benedetto, a seaside tourist resort in Liguria. Still mourning the loss of his brother, Luca, and his heartbroken mother’s subsequent suicide, Etto (who often swears, usually in Italian) is a walking storm of unresolved emotions: loss, anger, guilt, restlessness and uncertainty. But a catalyst for change appears—Yuri Fil, a Ukrainian soccer celebrity, in hiding after a match-fixing scandal. Etto cares little for soccer but does find himself attracted to Yuri’s tough sister, Zhuki, and becomes a secret nighttime pupil of Yuri’s. When the celebrity’s presence eventually becomes known, the whole community is swept up in the excitement and organizes a soccer tournament. Events reach a head at the Ferragosto Festival, and although, by now, Pasulka has lost some of her plot's sure-footedness, she does succeed in bringing all her players safely home.
Pasulka scores a refreshing success with her affectionate portrait of a small-town community and her fresh angle on an aching heart.