With an introduction by Alexander Chee
‘So there is no one to whom I can speak the words that most need to be spoken, about the events which most closely concern our family and what has happened to us; I have to keep them bottled up inside me and there are times when they threaten to choke me.’
Valentino is the spoiled child of doting parents who have no doubt he will be ‘a man of consequence’. His sisters, however, see him for what he truly is: lazy, apathetic, self-absorbed and far more interested in dancing and dating students than applying himself to his studies at medical school.
His parents’ dreams begin to unravel when, out of the blue, Valentino becomes engaged to the wealthy yet strikingly ugly Maddalena. The family is scandalised by his choice of bride – and suspicious of her motives.
In Valentino, class, social expectations, wealth and marriage come under Natalia Ginzburg’s forensic scrutiny, her unflinching moral realism and her keen psychological insight resulting in a work of quiet devastation.
‘Ginzburg is a unique voice and there’s a direct simplicity to her prose that makes her dry observations all the more riveting.’ Guardian
‘It was as if her writing was a very important secret that I had been waiting all my life to discover . . . her words seemed to express something completely true about my experience of living, and about life.’ Sally Rooney
‘There is no one quite like Ginzburg for telling it like it is. Her unique, immediately recognisable voice is at once clear and shaded, artless and sly, able to speak of the deepest sorrows and smallest pleasures of everyday life.’ Phillip Lopate
‘Sharp and lively.’ Lydia Davis
‘Natalia Ginzburg is a fierce writer. She trusts in things – in the few objects that can capture the emptiness of the universe.’ Italo Calvino