Distant Fathers

Distant Fathers

Ann Goldstein, Marine Jarre
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This singular autobiography unfurls from author Marina Jarre' s native Latvia during the 1920s and 30s, and expands southward to the Italian countryside. In distinctive writing as poetic as it is precise, Jarre depicts an exceptionally multinational and complicated family: her elusive, handsome father-a Jew who perished in the Holocaust; her severe, cultured mother-an Italian Christian who translated Russian literature; and her sister and Latvian grandparents. Jarre tells of her passage from childhood to adolescence, first as a linguistic minority in a Baltic nation and then in traumatic exile to Italy after her parents' divorce. Jarre lives with her maternal grandparents, French-speaking Waldensian Protestants in the Alpine valleys southwest of Turin, where she finds fascist Italy a problematic home for a Riga-born Jew. This memoir-likened to Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov or Annie Ernaux' s The Years and now translated into English for the first time-probes questions of time, language, womanhood, belonging and estrangement, while asking what homeland can be for those who have none, or many more than one.
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, author of Danube and Blameless' Here is what it has felt like to be me, ' says every autobiography. The best, like Distant Fathers, go farther, plunging us into the stream of history--its ravages, its reprieves. Ann Goldstein' s shimmering translation of Jarre' s prose delivers into English a European masterpiece. --Benjamin Taylor, author of Here We Are and The Hue and Cry at Our HouseThe late Italian novelist Jarre reflects on her life in this kaleidoscopic memoir, here appearing in English for the first time . . . Gems of language and ideas abound . . . Lyrical prowess . . . Haunting prose. --Publishers WeeklyMidcentury European novelist Jarre (1925-2016) recalls the lifetime of dislocations that formed her changing sense of self . . . 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. Connoisseurs of literary memoir will enjoy Jarre' s precise way of capturing emotional experiences. --Kirkus ReviewsMarina Jarre . . . writes about being haunted, about never knowing quite where she was, and about ' not belonging' . . . with imagery that ranges from poetic and contemplative to graphic and even disgusting, revealing herself as unafraid to show what is often kept hidden for fear of judgement. The eloquence of Marina Jarre' s insightful memoir reflects what had always been, even more than people and events, her true passion: words and stories. --Foreword ReviewsMarina 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, author of The Enchanter: Nabokov and HappinessMarina Jarre' s vibrant memoir is stunning in its intimacy, honesty, and finely observed detail. --Hilma Wolitzer, author of An Available Man and The Doctor' s DaughterThis 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, author of Fierce Attachments and The Odd Woman and the CityA 2021 Must-Read in Translation --Book RiotA classic. --La RepubblicaIt' 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
Marina Jarre was born in Riga, Latvia, in 1925, and lived in Italy from 1935 until her death at the age of 90 in 2016. Cultural identity, personal character, psychology, and autobiographical themes are central elements of her novels and stories. Ann Goldstein has translated The Neapolitan Novels and other works by Elena Ferrante, as well as writings by Primo Levi, Giacomo Leopardi, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Anna Maria Ortese. She is a former editor at The New Yorker.