cover image Trick


Domenico Starnone, trans. from the Italian by Jhumpa Lahiri. Europa (PRH, dist.), $16 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-1-60945-444-9

Starnone’s astute and emotionally precise novel (after Ties) follows famed illustrator Daniele Mallarico as he returns to his childhood home in Naples at the request of his daughter, Betta. Daniele is reluctantly tasked with watching his four-year-old grandson, Mario, while Betta and her husband, Saverio, head to Milan for an academic conference and a chance to discuss their failing marriage. Daniele’s three-day visit to the apartment where he was raised prompts him to reflect on the course of his life, and he begins to see apparitions from his past. Struggling to complete a project for a book publisher while sparring with the thoughtful and rebellious Mario, Daniele confronts his mortality and the ephemeral nature of art. Lahiri’s translation preserves the poignancy and humor of the first-person narration, which balances compassion and repressed irritation. The book is packed with endearing moments and clever observations about familial relationships (both Betta and Saverio confide in Daniele right off the bat, forcing him into the thick of their tension). This remarkably layered work encourages rereading to unearth subtle and new interpretations. (Mar.)