The Homecoming Party

Carmine Abate, trans. from the Italian by Antony Shugaar, Europa (Penguin, dist.), $15 paper (192p) ISBN 978-1-933372-83-9
Abate's atmospheric tale (after Between Two Seas) concerns a Calabrian farming family whose father's migration to France in search of work causes a perilous vacuum at home. Eldest daughter Elisa, the product of a first marriage to a French woman, studies at the University of Cosenza, and has taken up with an older, married lover, spied on by Marco, the adolescent son (and part-time narrator), who runs wild and unsupervised over the Calabrian ravines with his fearless dog, Spertina. Like many of his compatriots, the father feels constantly torn between staying and leaving, and though he yearns to work on the farm and see his children grow up, he imagines "a pistol aimed at his forehead and the arrogant voice of the born whoremonger threatening him: ‘Leave, or I'll pull the trigger!'" Peppered liberally with phrases from the Arbëresh, an ancient dialect of the Albanian language, Abate's novel forms a lovely, sentimental hymn to this vanishing old world, with a focus much more on beautiful descriptive passages than on the largely incidental plot.(Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/28/2010
Release date: 07/01/2010
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