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TRUST by Domenico Starnone Kirkus Star


by Domenico Starnone ; translated by Jhumpa Lahiri

Pub Date: Oct. 19th, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-60945-703-7
Publisher: Europa Editions

A pair of lovers make an unsettling pact.

Pietro and Teresa keep breaking up and getting back together until one day, finally, Teresa suggests a way to bind themselves together: They’ll each confess their worst secret. They do, but, a few days later, they break up again—this time for good. Time passes; Pietro meets Nadia, marries her, begins to have children, sees his career taking off. Teresa moves from Italy to the United States. And yet she still holds an enigmatic but intense power over Pietro: “We’d mutually revealed not only who we really were,” he explains, “free from all staging, but had also revealed, one to the other, who, had the occasion arisen, we might have been.” This is the fourth of Starnone’s novels to appear in English, and, like the previous three, there is a tight, compact quality to it—there is nothing here that doesn’t need to be here, not a single extraneous sentence. Starnone excels not only with plot and form, but in his depictions of the subtleties of living and loving. “Love, well, what to say?”—that’s the very first sentence of the novel (which is beautifully translated by Lahiri). Pietro lives his life knowing that Teresa, and only Teresa, knows the worst in him and can, at any moment, expose him for it—that possibility hangs over his every decision like a threat. But in the last quarter of the book, Starnone tightens his reins even further. The story, it turns out, isn’t just about trust—but also about how we create our own lovers to suit the selves we’d like to be—or, at any cost, not to be.

Richly nuanced while also understated, Starnone’s latest appearance in English is a novel to be savored.