Elena Varvello - Can you hear me? - Hodder & Stoughton

Time remaining

  • -- days
  • -- hours
  • -- minutes
  • -- seconds
Other Formats
  • E-Book £P.O.R.
    More information
    • ISBN:9781473654907
    • Publication date:13 Jul 2017
  • Paperback £8.99
    More information
    • ISBN:9781473654891
    • Publication date:31 May 2018

Can you hear me?

A gripping holiday read set during a scorching Italian summer

By Elena Varvello

  • Hardback
  • £14.99

A riveting coming-of-age story set during a scorching Italian summer, told with the breathless precision of a Hitchcock noir.

'Utterly gripped me from beginning to end' Victoria Hislop
'Move over Ferrante, there's a new Elena in town' Independent
'There is much beauty and sadness in this slim novel' The Times
'A novel of crime and darkness that eschews straightforward domestic noir' Guardian

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.

1978.
Ponte, a small community in Northern Italy. An unbearably hot summer like many others.

Elia Furenti is sixteen, living an unremarkable life of moderate unhappiness, 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.
And a girl climbs into a van and vanishes in the deep, dark woods...

Translated by Alex Valente | Winner of an English PEN Award

Biographical Notes

ELENA VARVELLO was born in Turin, Italy, in 1971. She has published two collections of poetry, Perseveranza è 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).
She teaches creative writing at the Scuola Holden in Turin.
elenavarvello.com

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.

  • Other details

  • ISBN: 9781473654877
  • Publication date: 13 Jul 2017
  • Page count: 272
  • Imprint: Two Roads
Can You Hear Me? poignantly touches on problems of friendships, families and coming of age in a small community in northern Italy. There is much beauty and sadness in this slim novel. — Marcel Berlins, The Times
'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' — Victoria Hislop, Good Housekeeping
Move over Ferrante, there's a new Elena in town... Can You Hear Me? is the first of Elena Varvello's novels to be translated into English - elegantly so by Alex Valente, no easy task since the story episodically flits between two narrative strands, and splices memories of the recent past in with sections set in the present. It's as if, as one character puts it, "time has all bunched up like a bedsheet"... Varvello maintains a sense of tension and dread throughout, all cleverly focused on Elia's slow comprehension of the situation he finds himself in. The novel is something akin to noir, but the emphasis in on the psychological... It made me think of the opening of Ian McEwan's The Cement Garden... Like all the best coming-of-age stories, at its heart Can You Hear Me? is about understanding the limits of one's own knowledge. — Lucy Scholes, Independent
The novel is carried by both the brilliance of its setting and by a scattering of emotional truths... Here, Varvello's spare poetry reveals itself in masterly atmosphere and sense of place... It is refreshing to read a novel of crime and darkness that eschews straightforward domestic noir, and Varvello was brave to write about the trauma that haunts her. — Guardian

Varvello is emerging as one of the strongest young voices in the Italian literary world. Can You Hear Me? is a sparse, stark tale, at once a murder mystery and a coming-of-age story.

Can You Hear Me? is a bleak and vivid book, about the way that life can throw up events that are forever impossible to come to terms with, so that subsequent life is a joyless affair.

— Caroline Moorehead, TLS
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. — Declan Burke, Irish Times
A claustrophobic read... Marrying the unsettling feelings of a coming-of-age tale with a panic-inducing abduction story, Varvello explores the psychological impacts of fear, love and mental illness in pared-back prose. — Eithne Farry, Daily Express
A spare, underplayed and suspenseful story about a terrible crime eating away at a family. — Alastair Mabbott, Sunday Herald
A beautiful, stark, poignant account of fear, love and loss — Emma Flint, author of LITTLE DEATHS
I 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. — Claire Fuller, author of OUR ENDLESS NUMBERED DAYS
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. — Bret Anthony Johnston, internationally bestselling author of REMEMBER ME LIKE THIS and Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award winner 2017
So extraordinary that I'm almost speechless... It's such a mesmerising novel, at times a very chilling one, and it has both broken my heart and mended it at the same time. The writing is so tense, the atmosphere so heavy and the book's structure is so clever, and technically astounding. What a feat! And what I applaud so very much is its honest ending, its sense of completion(at least for the reader), and its universal message of hope. I feel so moved by this novel and in ways that I know will take me some time yet to uncover. — Matt Bates, WHSmith Travel Fiction Buyer
Few writers have gripped me, left me breathless and sweaty palmed, quite like Varvello. Expanding the possibilities of the thriller, Can You Hear Me? probes that period of unease, common to growing up, when we realise that our parents are fallible. It's a novel of teenage awakening, of pauses and silences, pregnant with secrets. This book has given me sleepless nights, broken my heart and worked its way deep into my psyche. I am thrilled to finally have the opportunity to place such an extraordinary book in readers' hands. — Gary Perry, Foyles Staff Pick
Can You Hear Me? is not a faint-hearted book. Elena Varvello plays with some big themes here; fear, love and loss are prominent and sketched in heart aching relief. The story is a tense exploration of the mysteries of the human heart, the weight of paranoia and the often destructive nature of love and blind devotion... Varvello's writing is so redolent and vivid that the reader can almost feel the sweltering heat of summer in Italy, the intense desire between Elia and Anna and the individual anguish and grief of all characters here. This is not a light-hearted summer read but rather an intensely brilliant noir, tightly paced but with the wistful quality of a midsummer daydream. The characters are vibrant, relatable and powerfully realised and the story moves at breath taking pace. This is a beautiful coming of age story, a meditation on the nature of adulthood and a sizzling reminder of the turmoil of adolescence. Varvello has expertly captured the exquisite torture of first time lust and the agony of betrayal. The intensely personal nature of the story becomes clear when Varvello discloses that she wrote the book as a way of exorcising her own difficult relationship with her father, himself a sufferer of mental illness, in an act of letting go of her own past. This adds another level of poignant tenderness to this already heart wrenching tale and it adds another layer of humanity to Varvello's writing... Alex Valente has adoringly translated Varvello's work and the partnership between them is a wonderful example of how loving translation can bring powerful writing to readers across the world. If you like your fiction dark and deep, your characters strikingly real and are prepared to have your heart lovingly shattered then this is the book for you. — Bookbag
I can't remember reading a thriller that is as eerily intense as Elena Varvello's Can You Hear Me?... While this novel is obviously far removed from my own circumstances, the style and subject of Varvello's story invoked a deep sense of nostalgia in me. Elia is a somewhat awkward young man who makes a loose friendship with a boy named Stefano. Their friendship develops organically. They don't necessarily have a huge amount of shared interests but are pulled together more because of circumstances when there is no one else to spend time with. A lot of childhood friendships seem to be formed in this way and the only other book I can recall that got this so well is Tim Winton's novel Breath. During their summer together they spend time swimming at a remote water hole. I have strong memories of doing something similar and the representation of this uneven friendship felt very real... While Elia tries to deal with these normal issues surrounding any young man's development, he also grows increasingly wary of his father who believes that he's been cheated out of a job and becomes increasingly absent from the home. Marta seems to bury her head in the sand about her husband Ettore's behaviour and withdraw into herself. So this boy is mostly left to struggle with all of this on his own. Because of this, the story develops an increasing level of emotional poignancy as it goes on at the same time as it grows more unsettlingly tense. Varvello's captivating writing style drew me in and had me gripped in that way that made me really resent having to stop reading it at the end of my commutes or lunch breaks. It's a powerful book that reminds me of some of Joyce Carol Oates' novels in the way that Varvello so effectively builds suspense amidst a plot involving friendship and embittered economical hardships. And (coming from me) you know that means I think very highly of it! — Lonesome Reader
Can you hear me? is no ordinary psychological thriller - to pigeonhole it into that sub-genre would be to ignore large parts of this atmospheric and intense novel. Alongside the central mystery is a coming of age story and the two themes mesh together seamlessly... We've seen how Varvello generates suspense; she is also very skilful in making us care about all the characters: from Marta's tender, careworn love and inability to recognise Ettore's illness, to broken but unbowed Anna; from the adolescent bluster of Stefano to the growing confidence of Elia as he takes charge of his life. All are detailed alongside the tragedy of Ettore. Can you hear me? - which is Ettore's constant question, was tremendous, possibly the best thriller I'll read all year and as I said before, unputdownable. More please! — Shiny New Books blog
From the start this novel is heady and you can feel the Italian heat in every sentence. Considering how dark and intense this novel gets it's passionate and you find yourself relishing every chapter. Varvello's writing is like a shadowy mix of King and Du Maurier, it's part compelling noir and elegant coming -of-age story... I was so rooted in the story, Elia's confused emotional state and his father's mental decline was fascinating. Also I must mention the translation of this novel is brilliant, when reading translated fiction is often noticable when a translator loses the flow of the story but this doesn't happen at all in this book... it just feel like Italy.This is going to be my book of the summer and potentially the year. — Sasha James, Bookspume blog

Can you hear me? is no ordinary psychological thriller - to pigeonhole it into that sub-genre would be to ignore large parts of this atmospheric and intense novel. Alongside the central mystery is a coming of age story and the two themes mesh together seamlessly... I read into the night, I truly couldn't put the book down...
We've seen how Varvello generates suspense; she is also very skillful in making us care about all the characters: from Marta's tender, careworn love and inability to recognise Ettore's illness, to broken but unbowed Anna; from the adolescent bluster of Stefano to the growing confidence of Elia as he takes charge of his life. All are detailed alongside the tragedy of Ettore. Can you hear me? was tremendous, possibly the best thriller I'll read all year and as I said before, unputdownable. More please!

— Shiny New Books
At first glance, Elena Varvello's Can You Hear Me? has all the hallmarks of a commercial thriller... Yet those who venture further into the pages expecting the novel to be nothing more than a page-turner are in for a surprise. For this book offers so much more. Varvello has published two collections of poetry and it shows. Not only is her writing (translated here by Alex Valente) taut, but it is also exquisitely precise. Rather than scatter-gunning the reader with details, she selects one telling enough to convey an entire character or mood. From the way a person watches their reflection in a mirror, or the briefest of exchanges, the author conjures entire scenes, imbuing her pages by turns with menace, nostalgia and wistfulness... Chief among the cast of blinkered individuals is the narrator, Elia's, father, whose redundancy and subsequent breakdown are the catalysts for much of the action. Menacingly erratic and yet pitiable, he towers from the page... At points the writing is breathtakingly deft. The result is an engrossing and troubling book that hangs big questions on the taut wire of a gripping plot. Like her namesake Ferrante, Elena Varvello knows how to keep readers hooked. We shall see more of her work. — Ann Morgan, ayearofreadingtheworld.com
...but overall, it is far more about the unspoken, about all the things that crack open a facade and leave people broken, even though they pretend to be resilient. It is about people hiding the truth even from themselves... With its ability to capture the tormented adolescent soul, it reminded me of Bassani's The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, but this is far less idyllic and nostalgic. The tense, moody atmosphere, conveyed not through purple prose, but through a very restrained, economical style, is more reminiscent of Alberto Moravia. There are also hints of that author's disenchantment with human nature, modern life and that elusive myth of finding happiness. — Finding Time to Write blog
A taut, smart, 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 — Kirsty Wark, author of THE LEGACY OF ELIZABETH PRINGLE
Haunting, surreal, 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 — Karen Dionne, author of THE MARSH KING'S DAUGHTER
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. — Kate Mayfield, author of THE UNDERTAKER'S DAUGHTER
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. — Isabel Costello, The Literary Sofa - Summer Reads 2017
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 — Paolo Giordano, internationally bestselling author of THE SOLITUDE OF PRIME NUMBERS
Reading Can you hear me? is like being swept away by a powerful current. The best Italian novel of the year. — Fabio Geda, internationally bestselling author of IN THE SEA THERE ARE CROCODILES
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. — Alessandro Baricco, internationally bestselling author of SILK
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. — Maria Lomunno, Foyles Bookseller
A noir that reminded me of great Italian literature: the atmosphere I found in Niccolò 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 — Dafne Martino, Waterstones bookseller

Elena Varvello has created a world of suspense à 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.

— Gaia Servadio
A dark and painful novel, constructed with great wisdom and written with rare restraint. — Nicola Lagioia, author of FEROCITY, winner of the Strega Prize 2015
Varvello has written both a noir and a coming-of-age novel that is in some ways reminiscent of Niccolò 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. — Il Messaggero
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. — Huffington Post Italy
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 ruthless — La Stampa
A coming-of-age story of friendship and passion that keeps the reader glued to the page — Repubblica
Magnificent — Il manifesto
With her ability to capture the fragmented rhythm of life, the clockwork eruption of a drama foretold, Elena Varvello hooks the reader — Corriere della Sera
Pain is treated here, not as an emotion to fear, but to be observed under the stunning microscope of Elena's prose. — Australian Women's Weekly (NZ edition)
Can You Hear Me? is a perfect coming-of-age novel, with a dark core that will make you read until the very last page ... Elena Varvello has poured her heart and soul into this beautiful, haunting piece of fiction. — Cesca Lizzie Reads
Can You Hear Me? poignantly touches on problems of friendships, families and coming of age in a small community in northern Italy. There is much beauty and sadness in this slim novel.
'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'
Move over Ferrante, there's a new Elena in town... Can You Hear Me? is the first of Elena Varvello's novels to be translated into English - elegantly so by Alex Valente, no easy task since the story episodically flits between two narrative strands, and splices memories of the recent past in with sections set in the present. It's as if, as one character puts it, "time has all bunched up like a bedsheet"... Varvello maintains a sense of tension and dread throughout, all cleverly focused on Elia's slow comprehension of the situation he finds himself in. The novel is something akin to noir, but the emphasis in on the psychological... It made me think of the opening of Ian McEwan's The Cement Garden... Like all the best coming-of-age stories, at its heart Can You Hear Me? is about understanding the limits of one's own knowledge.
The novel is carried by both the brilliance of its setting and by a scattering of emotional truths... Here, Varvello's spare poetry reveals itself in masterly atmosphere and sense of place... It is refreshing to read a novel of crime and darkness that eschews straightforward domestic noir, and Varvello was brave to write about the trauma that haunts her.

Varvello is emerging as one of the strongest young voices in the Italian literary world. Can You Hear Me? is a sparse, stark tale, at once a murder mystery and a coming-of-age story.

Can You Hear Me? is a bleak and vivid book, about the way that life can throw up events that are forever impossible to come to terms with, so that subsequent life is a joyless affair.

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 claustrophobic read... Marrying the unsettling feelings of a coming-of-age tale with a panic-inducing abduction story, Varvello explores the psychological impacts of fear, love and mental illness in pared-back prose.
A spare, underplayed and suspenseful story about a terrible crime eating away at a family.
A beautiful, stark, poignant account of fear, love and loss
I 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.
So extraordinary that I'm almost speechless... It's such a mesmerising novel, at times a very chilling one, and it has both broken my heart and mended it at the same time. The writing is so tense, the atmosphere so heavy and the book's structure is so clever, and technically astounding. What a feat! And what I applaud so very much is its honest ending, its sense of completion(at least for the reader), and its universal message of hope. I feel so moved by this novel and in ways that I know will take me some time yet to uncover.
Few writers have gripped me, left me breathless and sweaty palmed, quite like Varvello. Expanding the possibilities of the thriller, Can You Hear Me? probes that period of unease, common to growing up, when we realise that our parents are fallible. It's a novel of teenage awakening, of pauses and silences, pregnant with secrets. This book has given me sleepless nights, broken my heart and worked its way deep into my psyche. I am thrilled to finally have the opportunity to place such an extraordinary book in readers' hands.
Can You Hear Me? is not a faint-hearted book. Elena Varvello plays with some big themes here; fear, love and loss are prominent and sketched in heart aching relief. The story is a tense exploration of the mysteries of the human heart, the weight of paranoia and the often destructive nature of love and blind devotion... Varvello's writing is so redolent and vivid that the reader can almost feel the sweltering heat of summer in Italy, the intense desire between Elia and Anna and the individual anguish and grief of all characters here. This is not a light-hearted summer read but rather an intensely brilliant noir, tightly paced but with the wistful quality of a midsummer daydream. The characters are vibrant, relatable and powerfully realised and the story moves at breath taking pace. This is a beautiful coming of age story, a meditation on the nature of adulthood and a sizzling reminder of the turmoil of adolescence. Varvello has expertly captured the exquisite torture of first time lust and the agony of betrayal. The intensely personal nature of the story becomes clear when Varvello discloses that she wrote the book as a way of exorcising her own difficult relationship with her father, himself a sufferer of mental illness, in an act of letting go of her own past. This adds another level of poignant tenderness to this already heart wrenching tale and it adds another layer of humanity to Varvello's writing... Alex Valente has adoringly translated Varvello's work and the partnership between them is a wonderful example of how loving translation can bring powerful writing to readers across the world. If you like your fiction dark and deep, your characters strikingly real and are prepared to have your heart lovingly shattered then this is the book for you.
I can't remember reading a thriller that is as eerily intense as Elena Varvello's Can You Hear Me?... While this novel is obviously far removed from my own circumstances, the style and subject of Varvello's story invoked a deep sense of nostalgia in me. Elia is a somewhat awkward young man who makes a loose friendship with a boy named Stefano. Their friendship develops organically. They don't necessarily have a huge amount of shared interests but are pulled together more because of circumstances when there is no one else to spend time with. A lot of childhood friendships seem to be formed in this way and the only other book I can recall that got this so well is Tim Winton's novel Breath. During their summer together they spend time swimming at a remote water hole. I have strong memories of doing something similar and the representation of this uneven friendship felt very real... While Elia tries to deal with these normal issues surrounding any young man's development, he also grows increasingly wary of his father who believes that he's been cheated out of a job and becomes increasingly absent from the home. Marta seems to bury her head in the sand about her husband Ettore's behaviour and withdraw into herself. So this boy is mostly left to struggle with all of this on his own. Because of this, the story develops an increasing level of emotional poignancy as it goes on at the same time as it grows more unsettlingly tense. Varvello's captivating writing style drew me in and had me gripped in that way that made me really resent having to stop reading it at the end of my commutes or lunch breaks. It's a powerful book that reminds me of some of Joyce Carol Oates' novels in the way that Varvello so effectively builds suspense amidst a plot involving friendship and embittered economical hardships. And (coming from me) you know that means I think very highly of it!
Can you hear me? is no ordinary psychological thriller - to pigeonhole it into that sub-genre would be to ignore large parts of this atmospheric and intense novel. Alongside the central mystery is a coming of age story and the two themes mesh together seamlessly... We've seen how Varvello generates suspense; she is also very skilful in making us care about all the characters: from Marta's tender, careworn love and inability to recognise Ettore's illness, to broken but unbowed Anna; from the adolescent bluster of Stefano to the growing confidence of Elia as he takes charge of his life. All are detailed alongside the tragedy of Ettore. Can you hear me? - which is Ettore's constant question, was tremendous, possibly the best thriller I'll read all year and as I said before, unputdownable. More please!
From the start this novel is heady and you can feel the Italian heat in every sentence. Considering how dark and intense this novel gets it's passionate and you find yourself relishing every chapter. Varvello's writing is like a shadowy mix of King and Du Maurier, it's part compelling noir and elegant coming -of-age story... I was so rooted in the story, Elia's confused emotional state and his father's mental decline was fascinating. Also I must mention the translation of this novel is brilliant, when reading translated fiction is often noticable when a translator loses the flow of the story but this doesn't happen at all in this book... it just feel like Italy.This is going to be my book of the summer and potentially the year.

Can you hear me? is no ordinary psychological thriller - to pigeonhole it into that sub-genre would be to ignore large parts of this atmospheric and intense novel. Alongside the central mystery is a coming of age story and the two themes mesh together seamlessly... I read into the night, I truly couldn't put the book down...
We've seen how Varvello generates suspense; she is also very skillful in making us care about all the characters: from Marta's tender, careworn love and inability to recognise Ettore's illness, to broken but unbowed Anna; from the adolescent bluster of Stefano to the growing confidence of Elia as he takes charge of his life. All are detailed alongside the tragedy of Ettore. Can you hear me? was tremendous, possibly the best thriller I'll read all year and as I said before, unputdownable. More please!

At first glance, Elena Varvello's Can You Hear Me? has all the hallmarks of a commercial thriller... Yet those who venture further into the pages expecting the novel to be nothing more than a page-turner are in for a surprise. For this book offers so much more. Varvello has published two collections of poetry and it shows. Not only is her writing (translated here by Alex Valente) taut, but it is also exquisitely precise. Rather than scatter-gunning the reader with details, she selects one telling enough to convey an entire character or mood. From the way a person watches their reflection in a mirror, or the briefest of exchanges, the author conjures entire scenes, imbuing her pages by turns with menace, nostalgia and wistfulness... Chief among the cast of blinkered individuals is the narrator, Elia's, father, whose redundancy and subsequent breakdown are the catalysts for much of the action. Menacingly erratic and yet pitiable, he towers from the page... At points the writing is breathtakingly deft. The result is an engrossing and troubling book that hangs big questions on the taut wire of a gripping plot. Like her namesake Ferrante, Elena Varvello knows how to keep readers hooked. We shall see more of her work.
...but overall, it is far more about the unspoken, about all the things that crack open a facade and leave people broken, even though they pretend to be resilient. It is about people hiding the truth even from themselves... With its ability to capture the tormented adolescent soul, it reminded me of Bassani's The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, but this is far less idyllic and nostalgic. The tense, moody atmosphere, conveyed not through purple prose, but through a very restrained, economical style, is more reminiscent of Alberto Moravia. There are also hints of that author's disenchantment with human nature, modern life and that elusive myth of finding happiness.
A taut, smart, 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
Haunting, surreal, 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
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 Niccolò 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 à 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.

A dark 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 Niccolò 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 ruthless
A coming-of-age story of friendship and passion that keeps the reader glued to the page
Magnificent
With her ability to capture the fragmented rhythm of life, the clockwork eruption of a drama foretold, Elena Varvello hooks the reader
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 Niccolò 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 à 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.

A dark 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 Niccolò 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 ruthless
A coming-of-age story of friendship and passion that keeps the reader glued to the page
Magnificent
With her ability to capture the fragmented rhythm of life, the clockwork eruption of a drama foretold, Elena Varvello hooks the reader
Pain is treated here, not as an emotion to fear, but to be observed under the stunning microscope of Elena's prose.
Can You Hear Me? is a perfect coming-of-age novel, with a dark core that will make you read until the very last page ... Elena Varvello has poured her heart and soul into this beautiful, haunting piece of fiction.
Hodder & Stoughton

All the Hidden Truths

Claire Askew
Authors:
Claire Askew

This is a fact: Ryan Summers walked into Three Rivers College and killed thirteen women, then himself. But no one can say why. The question is one that cries out to be answered - by Ryan's mother, Moira; by Ishbel, the mother of Abigail, the first victim; and by DI Helen Birch, put in charge of the case on her first day at her new job. But as the tabloids and the media swarm, as the families' secrets come out, as the world searches for someone to blame... the truth seems to vanish.A stunningly moving novel from an exciting new voice in crime, ALL THE HIDDEN TRUTHS will cause you to question your assumptions about the people you love, and reconsider how the world reacts to tragedy.

Sceptre

CoDex 1962

Sjón
Authors:
Sjón
Hodder & Stoughton

The Last of Our Kind

Adélaïde de Clermont-Tonnerre
Authors:
Adélaïde de Clermont-Tonnerre
Hodder & Stoughton

The Perfect Couple

Elin Hilderbrand
Authors:
Elin Hilderbrand
Hodder & Stoughton

The Moscow Deception

Karen Robards
Authors:
Karen Robards

THE BRAND NEW EDGE-OF-YOUR-SEAT THRILLER FROM NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR KAREN ROBARDSClever. Cunning. Highly skilled. There's only one Bianca St. Ives. And for her enemies, that's one too many.Bianca St. Ives - a highly skilled con-woman and thief - is in trouble. A revelation about her past has left her reeling, as well as making her the target of a network of assassins. Bianca was raised a fighter. She'll try and outsmart her pursuers, but if it's kill or be killed, she's got her finger flush against the trigger. But then Bianca's father loops her in on a job that might just do the trick: recovering a collection of heavily guarded, priceless artifacts stolen during World War II, and return it to Germany. The price paid if she succeeds - intel that could finally bring down the shadowy forces seeking to bury her for good. Faced with threats that circle closer with every move she makes, she knows the stakes have never been higher, but when you're already living on borrowed time, you have to hustle if you want to live to see tomorrow.

Hodder & Stoughton

Not That I Could Tell

Jessica Strawser
Authors:
Jessica Strawser
Hodder Paperbacks

The Family Next Door

Sally Hepworth
Authors:
Sally Hepworth
Two Roads

The Bookseller

Cynthia Swanson
Authors:
Cynthia Swanson
Hodder & Stoughton

He Said/She Said

Erin Kelly
Authors:
Erin Kelly
Hodder Paperbacks

The Graveyard of the Hesperides

Lindsey Davis
Authors:
Lindsey Davis

From renowned author Lindsey Davis, creator of the much-loved character, Marcus Didius Falco and his friends and family, comes the fourth novel in her all-new series set in ancient Rome.We first met Flavia Albia, Falco's feisty adopted daughter, in The Ides of April. Albia is a remarkable woman in what is very much a man's world: young, widowed and fiercely independent, she lives alone on the Aventine Hill in Rome and makes a good living as a hired investigator. An outsider in more ways than one, Albia has unique insight into life in ancient Rome, and she puts it to good use going places no man could go, and asking questions no man could ask.

Sceptre

The Odessans

Irina Ratushinskaya
Authors:
Irina Ratushinskaya

An epic and engrossing novel set at the beginning of the twentieth century, THE ODESSANS is the story of three families from Odessa in the Ukraine: the Russian Petrovs, the Jewish Geibers, and the Teslenkos, who are of Ukrainian and Polish descent. Throughout years of war, famine, political struggle and incredible hardship, their deep friendships sustain each of the families. Their lives are rent by tragedy; some friends are hounded by anti-Semites, while others join opposite sides in the Civil War or are forced to flee to Odessa. But through it all, their characteristic good humour and faith in each other enable their close circle to survive.

Sceptre

Fictions and Lies

Irina Ratushinskaya
Authors:
Irina Ratushinskaya

In FICTIONS AND LIES, a writer dies suddenly, in fear of KGB pursuit. His last manuscript, which is thought to be dangerously anti-Soviet, is missing from his apartment, so immediately becomes the object of a rapid police search. As it is traced, whom will it implicate, and what else will it reveal? Deftly, we are led into a world where right and wrong are problematic in ways we never experienced in the West, where integrity and self-respect may prove costly for one's family and friends, where compromise may prove unexpectedly difficult to avoid, and yet where truth and honesty matter all the more for being so elusive.

Sceptre

Britt-Marie Was Here

Fredrik Backman
Authors:
Fredrik Backman

The number 1 European bestseller by the author of New York Times bestseller and international phenomenon A Man Called Ove, Britt-Marie was Here is a funny, poignant and uplifting tale of love, community, and second chances.For as long as anyone can remember, Britt-Marie has been an acquired taste. It's not that she's judgemental, or fussy, or difficult - she just expects things to be done in a certain way. A cutlery drawer should be arranged in the right order, for example (forks, knives, then spoons). We're not animals, are we? But behind the passive-aggressive, socially awkward, absurdly pedantic busybody is a woman who has more imagination, bigger dreams and a warmer heart than anyone around her realizes.So when Britt-Marie finds herself unemployed, separated from her husband of 20 years, left to fend for herself in the miserable provincial backwater that is Borg - of which the kindest thing one can say is that it has a road going through it - and somehow tasked with running the local football team, she is a little unprepared. But she will learn that life may have more to offer her that she's ever realised, and love might be found in the most unexpected of places.(P)2016 Hodder & Stoughton Ltd.

John Murray

Real Tigers

Mick Herron
Authors:
Mick Herron

SHORTLISTED FOR THE CWA GOLDSBORO GOLD DAGGER AND THE IAN FLEMING STEEL DAGGER 'If you read one spy novel this year, read Real Tigers' The Spectator'The finest new crime series this millennium' Mail on SundayLondon's Slough House is where disgraced MI5 operatives are reassigned to spend the rest of their careers pushing paper. But when one of these fallen spies is kidnapped by a former soldier bent on revenge, the agents must breach the defenses of Regent's Park to steal valuable intel in exchange for their comrade's safety.The kidnapping is only the tip of the iceberg, however, as the agents uncover a larger web of intrigue that involves not only a group of private mercenaries, but also the highest authorities in the Security Service.After years spent as the lowest on the totem pole, the spies suddenly find themselves caught in the midst of a conspiracy that threatens not only the future of Slough House, but of MI5 itself . . .

Mulholland Books

Dead Level

Sarah Graves
Authors:
Sarah Graves

A killer with a screw loose sets his sights on Jacobia "Jake" Tiptree, whose latest renovation project becomes a dire matter of life and deck.Driving to a cottage in the Maine woods with her best friend, Ellie White, Jake has a challenging week ahead of her. She bet her husband that she could finish building the cottage porch in only a few days - a lofty goal for even the craftiest home renovator. But as Jake and Ellie set to work, they soon realize that they're not alone. Dewey Hooper, a recently escaped convict, is watching them. Jake's testimony got him sent away for murder years ago and here, in the remote wilderness, he can exact his revenge. Tough as nails and not afraid to defend themselves, Jake and Ellie are determined to keep their wits about them - to prevent the quaint little cottage from turning into the ultimate death trap.

Hodder & Stoughton

The Fifth Season

Mons Kallentoft
Authors:
Mons Kallentoft

When a family enjoying a walk in the woods outside Linköping, Sweden, discover the badly mutilated body of a young girl, Inspector Malin Fors is put in charge of the case. Malin immediately draws parallels between this case and one that has long haunted her- that of Maria Murvall. Several years ago, Maria was found in the very same forest, having been raped and brutally beaten. Since then she has lived in complete silence in a secure psychiatric clinic. When Malin meets a psychologist from a nearby hospital who mentions a third similar case, suddenly Maria appears to be a small part of a much bigger puzzle. But what happened that was so terrible it cannot be put into words? Malin is determined to get to the bottom of the case and finally uncover the truth of Maria's horrific past, no matter where it might take her.Translation © 2014 Neil Smith(P)2014 Hodder & Stoughton

John Murray

A Lovely Way to Burn

Louise Welsh
Authors:
Louise Welsh

As heard on BBC Radio 4 Book at BedtimeIt doesn't look like murder in a city full of death. A pandemic called 'The Sweats' is sweeping the globe. London is a city in crisis. Hospitals begin to fill with the dead and dying, but Stevie Flint is convinced that the sudden death of her boyfriend Dr Simon Sharkey was not from natural causes. As roads out of London become gridlocked with people fleeing infection, Stevie's search for Simon's killers takes her in the opposite direction, into the depths of the dying city and a race with death. A Lovely Way to Burn is the first outbreak in the Plague Times trilogy. Chilling, tense and completely compelling, it's Louise Welsh writing at the height of her powers.

Sceptre

The Night Guest

Fiona McFarlane
Authors:
Fiona McFarlane
John Murray

April in Paris

Michael Wallner
Authors:
Michael Wallner
Sceptre

Visitation Street

Ivy Pochoda
Authors:
Ivy Pochoda