Winner - English PEN Award
'Utterly gripped me from beginning to end' Victoria Hislop
In the August of 1978, the summer I met Anna Trabuio, my father took a girl into the woods...
I was sixteen.
He had been gone a long time already, but that was it - not even a year after he lost his job and that boy disappeared - that was when everything broke.
Ponte, a small community in Northern Italy: peaceful woods, discarded rubbish, a closed-down factory. An unbearably hot summer like many others, wilted flowers and trips to the waterfalls.
Elia Furenti is sixteen, living in a secluded house with his parents, a life so unremarkable that even its moderate unhappiness has been accepted as normal.
That is until the day the beautiful, damaged Anna returns to Ponte and firmly propels Elia to the edge of adulthood.
But then everything starts to unravel.
Elia's father, Ettore, is let go from his job and loses himself in the darkest corners of his mind.
A young boy is murdered, shaking the small community to its core.
And a girl climbs into a van and vanishes in the deep, dark woods...
'Readers will devour this novel in one sitting as I did' Karen Dionne, author of The Marsh King's Daughter
'Superb... Reads like a collaboration between Daphne du Maurier and Megan Abbott' The Irish Times
'A wonderfully anxiety-inducing read, where everything is bubbling uneasily just below the surface' Claire Fuller, author of Our Endless Numbered Days
'It took my breath away and kept me glued to the page until its heart-breaking end: a phenomenal achievement' Kirsty Wark, author of The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle
Smart, dark, page-turning. Like an episode of Twin Peaks directed by Hitchcock. The best book of the summer, brilliantly translated by Alex Valente.
'I love books I can read all in one sitting (maybe with a break to make tea) and can you hear me?
by Elena Varvello was one of these. A thriller, a mystery, a coming-of-age story that utterly gripped me from beginning to end
- and the translation from the original Italian never for a second gets in the way' Haunting
... Set in a small Italian town in the late 1970s, Can You Hear Me? reads like a collaboration between Daphne du Maurier and Megan Abbott
, a superb
psychological study marinated in a teenage boy's simmering hormones. A poet and award-winning short-story writer in her native Italy, Varvello writes tautly lyrical prose (beautifully translated by Alex Valente)
, delivering an absorbing tale that draws the reader into a nightmarish fever dream of isolation and paranoia
given a chilling sense of inevitability by Varvello's matter-of-fact tone and Elia's deadpan narration.A beautiful
account of fear, love and lossI loved Varvello's pared-back writing style, and how she manages to say so much in so few words
. An intense
read, wonderfully anxiety-inducing
, where everything is bubbling uneasily just below the surface
.Elena Varvello's Can you hear me?
is riveting and luminous
. It's a gorgeous heart-rending novel that you want to finish in one sitting - and few readers will be able to resist the exquisite gravity of such temptation - but it's also a novel that you long to savour, to make last, to draw out because there won't be another one this rich, this compelling, this extraordinarily satisfying for a long, long time
, and deeply engaging
, Elena Varvello's Can you hear me?
is at once suspenseful and elegiac, as beautiful as it is horrifying
, as Varvello takes us deep inside the mind and heart of 16-year-old Elia Furenti during his summer of change. Readers will devour this novel in one sitting as I did, then chew over it long after the book is done
, viciously gripping
noir about family and the destructive force of unconditional love. It took my breath away and kept me glued to the page until its heart-breaking end: a phenomenal achievement
Elena Varvello's thrilling
novel Can You Hear Me?
holds a magnifying glass to a family spiralling into darkness while simultaneously casting a net that ensnares the poignancy of the end of adolescence. We are swept away
by the vivid characters as their dark and broken places are deftly revealed. Varvello's command of her story, and yet delicate delivery, makes for stunning
writing. A smart, dark, page-turner that lingers long after the last page.
The bleakness and menace
of this 'Hitchcockian' novel owe much to its brevity and the starkness of its prose. A raw and heartrending
portrayal of masculinity and loneliness, the burden and complexity of family ties and the perils of crossing boundaries in a small community.Can you hear me?
shines a light on one family's black heart, a place where opposites coexist: tenderness and fear; happiness and pain; unfaltering faith and ugly suspicions. A book to get lost in
Reading Can you hear me?
is like being swept away by a powerful current
. The best Italian novel of the year
.One of the best Italian novels of 2016
. A book that doesn't shy away from pain - it shines a light on it. And it does so beautifully, page by page.Halfway between noir and coming-of-age, Can you hear me?
is an utterly original
new type of novel. I read it in two sittings, and I'm sure it will stay with me for a long time.A noir that reminded me of great Italian literature
: the atmosphere I found in NiccolÃ² Ammaniti's I'm not scared,
mixed with the images that someone like Bassani
can create with such accuracy... I can't even tell you how excited I am to finally talk about it with customers and colleagues
Elena Varvello has created a world of suspense Ã la Hitchcock: a 16-year-old boy tells his story and that of his tragic family... The ravine and the forest of the Piedmontese hills described in Can you hear me? are threatened by evil which colours every page of this novel and reaches the reader via a shattering, dry dialogue. The rapidly industrialised landscape in a provincial corner of northern Italy, containing woods, waterfalls but also discarded tins and other rubbish, speaks of the tragedy: all is normal in the microcosm of Can you hear me?, even intense unhappiness has been accepted as normality.
Elena Varvello is a skilled and able narrator; her strong prose belongs to a new vein that has sprung out of modern Italy: women writers revel in an imagination that used to belong to the male world but with an added dose of poetry that is altogether feminine.
and painful novel, constructed with great wisdom and written with rare restraint
.Varvello has written both a noir and a coming-of-age novel
that is in some ways reminiscent of NiccolÃ² Ammaniti's I'm Not Scared
... Varvello reveals the widening cracks slowly, perceptively, as one family scene unfurls from another, telling the story through omissions that become enigmas
.Can you hear me?
is one of the most beautiful, intense and original books I have encountered in my life
... A beautifully written book, that brings to mind Cormac McCarthy
.It brought back to mind Elsa Morante's Arturo's Island
, and those classics with the ability to capture the abyss of adolescence
, authors like Moravia and Bassani. This novel will grab you instantly and force you to read with a growing sense of panic, something tight in your throat
: like a noir
of ordinary life, bloodless and thus even more ruthlessA coming-of-age story of friendship and passion that keeps the reader glued to the pageMagnificent
With her ability to capture the fragmented rhythm of life, the clockwork eruption of a drama foretold
, Elena Varvello hooks the readerA riveting coming-of-age story, told with the breathless precision of a Hitchcock noir by a masterful new voice.
ELENA VARVELLO was born in Turin, Italy, in 1971. She has published two collections of poetry, Perseveranza Ã¨ salutare and Atlanti, a collection of short stories, L'economia delle cose (nominated for the Premio Strega, the Italian equivalent of the Man Booker Prize), and two novels, La luce perfetta del giorno and La vita felice, now translated into English as Can you hear me? (English PEN Award 2017). GRIP LIT AT ITS BEST
She teaches creative writing at the Scuola Holden in Turin.
ALEX VALENTE is a European half-Yorkshire, half-Tuscan freelance translator.
He has researched comics, poetry, and their translation, co-edits The Norwich Radical, regularly translates for Italian literary agencies, and does voluntary work for non-profit organisations.
He's on Twitter as @DrFumetts.
| Both an edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller and a stunningly written literary novel. Think Stephen King meets Cormac McCarthy, with a touch of Louise Doughty and a hint of Netflix' Stranger Things
.FOR READERS OF
| NiccolÃ² Ammaniti's I'm Not Scared
(UK TCM 85k+ - ANZ TCM 35k+) | Stephen King's The Body
(Stand By Me
) | JoÃ«l Dicker's The Truth about the Harry Quebert AffairPERSONAL STORY
| Elena's father suffered from bipolar disorder and she has spent the last decade writing Can you hear me?
, her way to come to terms with his condition.BRIGHT NEW TALENT
| Can you hear me?
represents a major step forward in Elena Varvello's literary career. The book received terrific reviews in Italy and was published by Einaudi, Italy's most prestigious literary imprint.TRANSLATOR
| This is Elena's first novel to appear in English and it's also Alex Valente's first major fiction translation. He was supervised by his mentor Daniel Hahn, who was shortlisted for the Man Booker international Prize in 2016 and won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2007.