cover image The Hunger of Women

The Hunger of Women

Marosia Castaldi, trans. from the Italian by Jamie Richards. And Other Stories, $19.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-913505-86-8

Late Neopolitan painter and writer Castaldi (1951–2019) excites in her seductive English-language debut, originally published in 2012, about an Italian woman who finds joy in becoming a restaurateur. Rosa, a 50-year-old widow from Naples, lives in Monticelli with her grown daughter, with whom she has a cordial but distant relationship. Rosa spends her time preparing flavorful dishes to quiet her self-destructive thoughts, brought on by angst over her domestic responsibilities and guilt over removing her husband from life support years earlier after a car crash. When her daughter announces she’s moving to France, Rosa transforms her house into a restaurant. Soon her evenings are filled with wealthy industrialists, Mafia associates, and other patrons eager to indulge in her cooking. Having given herself over completely to the sensual pleasures found in preparing food for others, Rosa embarks on torrid love affairs with several women and attracts controversy for refusing to live on anyone’s terms but her own. Exquisitely rendered in a poetic stream-of-consciousness that brims with lush descriptions of Rosa’s recipes, Castaldi’s novel is an ode to pleasure, culinary and otherwise. Stirring and vulnerable, this is not to be missed. (Dec.)