cover image Trust


Domenico Starnone, trans. from the Italian by Jhumpa Lahiri. Europa, $17 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-60945-703-7

Starnone (Trick) returns with an elegant story of a man’s lifelong struggle to perfect his public persona while hiding a secret. Pietro Vella, a self-important 30-something high school teacher, has a tempestuous affair with Teresa Quadraro, a former student who is eight years his junior. She suggests that in order to preserve their love, they each tell the other their worst secret. His involves an “embarrassing affair,” while hers remains unspecified. But their increasingly abusive relationship—he talks down to her, she threatens him with a knife, he drags her by the hair in a fit of jealousy over another man—doesn’t last long. Pietro later marries Nadia, a former colleague, yet continues to obsess over Teresa. When Pietro is 80, his daughter, Emma, lobbies to ensure he is awarded a prestigious teaching award. Much to Pietro’s horror, Teresa, now a renowned scientist, is invited to speak at the ceremony. Lahiri’s intelligent translation captures Starnone’s subtle account of the characters’ shifting power dynamics, and the novel ends with Teresa’s take on their affair, in which she admits she still loves him and ambiguously claims to be “far more dangerous than he.” Teresa’s voice is a tonic after Pietro’s misogynistic narration, but it’s too brief. This will leave readers wanting more. (Oct.)