cover image The Caravaggio Syndrome

The Caravaggio Syndrome

Alessandro Giardino, trans. from the Italian by Alessandro Giardino and Joyce Myerson. Rutgers Univ, $27.95 trade paper (206p) ISBN 978-1-978839-49-6

In this dreamy meditation, Giardino explores artistic dissatisfaction, personal resilience, and the intricacies of intimate relationships, all connected by the enigmatic allure of Caravaggio’s art. In 2007, Leyla D’Andria, an art historian at New York State’s Saint Luke University, sleeps with and becomes pregnant by composer Pablo, a man she quickly comes to find irritating. Meanwhile, Pablo engages the attention of Michael, a student at the university with whom he begins an affair. For his part, Michael grapples with his relationship with his previously unknown father, who looks eerily like Pablo, and undertakes an unexpected soul-searching journey to Naples. This contemporary love triangle intertwines with the historical reflections of Tommaso Campanella, a 16th-century philosopher facing imprisonment for his revolutionary ideas. As the modern characters navigate their complex lives, Campanella’s prophetic dreams begin to reference Leyla, Pablo, and Michael, adding a mysterious and possibly supernatural layer to the narrative. The characters’ trajectories, influenced by the echoes of the past, converge in unexpected ways that will have readers captivated. Giardino’s narrative prowess, coupled with Myerson’s fluid translation, makes for a subtle speculative work that lingers in the mind. (Apr.)