Book Review: Trick by Domenico Starnone, translated by Jhumpa Lahiri

(Europa Editions)
When Daniele Mallarico is asked to travel to Naples, from his home in Milan, to care for his 4-year-old grandson, his first response is to decline, but his daughter insists, and he finds himself enmeshed in almost constant battle with the wily, intelligent young Mario. For the grandfather, the burden is not just caregiving, but the ghosts of his childhood — the ruthless streets and alleys, the coarse destinies of those who lived there, the ceaseless pull of his past — are all at odds with the commercially and critically successful artist he has become. What is heredity and how does it shape our lives? Indeed, the very apartment, in which he trips over the strewn toys and tussles over the TV remote with his charge, is the same one he lived in as a child, the balcony off Mario’s room the same one that courted him with danger and escape.  Mario challenges his grandfather, refusing to let him retreat into the thoughts and imaginings that threaten to overwhelm him. The interplay of Mallarico’s inner thoughts and what he chooses to express verbally is just one example of the tricks being played in this slim, engrossing novel. A brilliant translation (and introduction) by the incomparable Jhumpa Lahiri only enhances this book.
— Reviewed by Jenny Lyons of The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury.
5 fascinating fictional families
The Immortalists, by Chloe Benjamin
Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee
A Separation, by Katie Kitamura
Asymmetry, by Lisa Halliday
Only Child, by Rhiannon Navin

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