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. Into this unlikely yet somehow inevitable union, our narrator is born. She comes of age 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 – her parents have not bothered to teach her – family communications are 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, 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 ofWhereabouts
‘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 ofOn 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 ofThe 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 ofThree 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