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Head of Zeus
Distant Fathers
03 Feb 2022 * EBOOK * £9.99 * 9781803280929

The autobiography of novelist Marina Jarre, tracing her identity and relationships through a turbulent era of European history.

Non Fiction / BM (Memoir)
Extent: 240 pages
Exclusive: GB AU NZ IN ZA SG   Not for sale: CA US
Distant Fathersby Marina Jarre, translated by Ann Goldstein

The extraordinary autobiography of novelist Marina Jarre, tracing her identity and relationships through a turbulent era of European history.

'Beautifully ingenious' Vivian Gornick
'Her masterwork' New York Times
'Rich and lyrical... Jarre's life is fascinating' New Statesman
'Ann Goldstein's shimmering translation of Jarre's prose delivers into English a European masterpiece' Benjamin Taylor
'One of the greatest writers of the twentieth century' Il Libraio

In distinctive, lyrical prose Jarre depicts an exceptionally multinational and complicated family: her elusive, handsome father, a Jewish man who perished in the Holocaust; her severe, cultured mother, an Italian Lutheran who translated Russian literature; her sister and Latvian grandparents. Shifting between past and present, Jarre narrates her coming-of-age; first as a linguistic minority in a Baltic nation and then in traumatic exile to Italy after her parents' divorce. There, she lived with her maternal grandparents among a community of French-speaking Waldensian Protestants and experienced the hostility of fascist Italy in the 1930s.

Published in Italy in 1987 and now translated into English for the first time, Distant Fathers probes questions of memory, language, womanhood, belonging and estrangement, while asking what a homeland can be for those who have none, or many more than one.

Marina Jarre was born in 1925 in Riga to a Latvian Jewish father and an Italian Protestant mother. She spent her childhood in Latvia until 1935, when her parents separated and she moved to Italy to live with her maternal grandparents. By the time of her death in 2016, Jarre had written over a dozen novels, short story collections and works of non-fiction, of which Distant Fathers is hailed as her masterwork.

A forgotten literary gem – first published in 1987 and now translated into English for the first time.

Touches on themes including time, language, place, womanhood and family, and depicts the turbulence of twentieth-century Europe.

Translated by Ann Goldstein, the translator of the bestselling Elena Ferrante novels

MARKET: Elena Ferrante; Annie Ernaux; Maria Stepanova; Deborah Levy.


'This is a beautifully ingenious memoir, saturated in the history of the European 20th century, and made all the more compelling by Ann Goldstein's luminous translation' Vivian Gornick

'Jarre's prose is rich and lyrical but not straightforward; memories are mixed with dreams, chronologies are twisted and vivid streams of consciousness are jarringly interrupted with historical fact... Jarre's life is fascinating' New Statesman

Lucid, luminous prose... The first of her books available in English [and] it must not be the last' Los Angeles Review of Books

'It's an incalculable source of joy when one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century can resume dialogue with the readers of today' Il Libraio

'Ann Goldstein's shimmering translation of Jarre's prose delivers into English a European masterpiece' Benjamin Taylor

Gems of language and ideas abound... Lyrical prowess... Haunting prose' Publishers Weekly

'It probes questions of time, language, womanhood, belonging and estrangement, while asking what a homeland can be for those who have none – or several' The Bookseller

'Like Nabokov's Speak, Memory, this book is more concerned with time and perspective than narrative storytelling, though Jarre is more like Ferrante in her lack of nostalgia and unflinching focus on the difficulties of relationships' Kirkus

'Marina Jarre's vibrant memoir is stunning in its intimacy, honesty, and finely observed detail' Hilma Wolitzer

'Marina Jarre's astonishing work reads like a dreamscape. Here, a Nabokovian memory mingles with meditations on homeland, womanhood, and sexuality. A book both sharp as a blade and glistening like a river in the sun' Lila Azam Zanganeh

Marina Jarre is an original, powerful and incisive writer... Her works – true, small-scale, essential masterpieces – have found passionate readers and critics and have an indisputable place in Italian literature of the past fifty years' Claudio Magris

An extraordinary memoir from a writer with an unforgettable voice... Distant Fathers is remarkable because of Jarre's ability to render her inner world precisely, including her lifelong sense of detachment' Shelf Awareness

A great book finally receives the notice it deserves... Prolific and distinguished, Ann Goldstein is an ideal translator for Jarre's provocative combination of psychological insight, feminist critique, transnational reflections, and historical interrogations' Reading in Translation

Recounts a life of displacement through rich sense memories... The book's elliptical string of fragments captures the nonlinear nature of memory' New Yorker

'This impressionistic memoir by an overlooked Italian writer – the child of a Christian mother and a Jewish father killed in the Holocaust – is seen as her masterwork' New York Times

'This stunning autobiography is both a love letter to a flawed and vanished childhood and a map of a woman's inner topography as she fumbles toward identity' Words Without Borders

'What jumps out at you is the quality and originality of her writing' ArtMuse

'Captures the startling, disorientating experience of being lost in a time of historic upheaval' Telegraph

'Few writers have written so ruthlessly and honestly about themselves' Times Literary Supplement

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