The Girl at the Door

Veronica Raimo, trans. from the Italian by Stash Luczkiw. Grove/Black Cat, $16 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-0-8021-4734-9
In Raimo’s fanged, elliptical tale, her English-language debut, sexual politics roils a tranquil utopia. A philosophy professor and his pregnant girlfriend, both unnamed, are relative newcomers to the island of Miden, an egalitarian society whose “vital serenity” is in marked contrast to their unnamed homeland, which is reeling from a devastating financial collapse. When the professor’s former student and lover declares that she had been raped and “subjected to violence” during their affair, the Commission investigates the allegations to determine whether “the Perpetrator” will be allowed to remain within their community or whether the “violence nesting in [him] could contaminate the social fabric.” The novel is told in alternating chapters from the professor’s and his girlfriend’s perspective as the Commission sends out questionnaires to their acquaintances. The professor, a charming narcissist, finds “a wonderful perversion” in being the center of the denigrating administrative process, while his isolated girlfriend reassesses the choices that have brought her from her moribund country to this besieged paradise. The novel deals in shifting sentiments: between love, revulsion, and desire; hostility toward and identification with the accuser; and between the couple’s ironic stance toward Miden’s stifling contentment and their intense yearning for inclusion in the community. A writer of wry and lucid prose, Raimo sculpts from these ambiguities a crystalline, powerful novel. Agent: Anna Stein, ICM Partners. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 07/16/2019
Release date: 06/01/2019
Genre: Fiction
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Compact Disc - 978-1-68457-497-1
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