cover image The Other Profile

The Other Profile

Irene Graziosi, trans. from the Italian by Lucy Rand. Europa, $27 (224p) ISBN 979-8-88966-002-6

Journalist and YouTuber Graziosi’s witty and unsettling debut shines an uncompromising light on European influencers. Maia, 26, the novel’s caustic narrator, has come undone after the death of her younger sister after a series of mental and physical health problems. Leaving her university classes in Paris, she has moved to Milan with her older boyfriend, a professor who is rapidly losing interest in her. There, a friend asks if she might be interested in working as an image consultant for Gloria, a prominent social media personality who’s still in high school. Maia and Gloria become friends of a sort, with the benignly vacuous Gloria pumping Maia for her opinions, and Maia growing accustomed to a life of luxury until a drug-fueled weekend reveals the cracks in their relationship. The lightly sketched plot wobbles at its few moments of consequence, mostly involving Maia’s feelings about her sister’s death. For the most part, though, Maia’s narration remains tartly amusing, full of acid one-liners about the people in this strange new world (Gloria smiles “in every photo as if she has facial paralysis”; another influencer bemoans her white privilege while “brushing away a golden lock from her lips which have been enlarged by injections”). Graziosi’s trip down the social media rabbit hole is as glossy and entertaining as it is perceptive. (Feb.)