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La straniera

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  3,106 ratings  ·  398 reviews
"La storia di una famiglia somiglia più a una cartina topografica che a un romanzo, e una biografia è la somma di tutte le ere geologiche che hai attraversato". Come si racconta una vita se non esplorandone i luoghi simbolici e geografici, ricostruendo una mappa di sé e del mondo vissuto? Tra la Basilicata e Brooklyn, da Roma a Londra, dall'infanzia al futuro, il nuovo lib ...more
Paperback, Oceani, 285 pages
Published February 14th 2019 by La nave di Teseo
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Average rating 3.59  · 
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 ·  3,106 ratings  ·  398 reviews

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Paul Fulcher
Genre, in the end, is just a game of possibilities and clues; it takes only a little misstep to slip out of a novel, to fall into an autobiography and resurface again as an essay, all in the short span of a sentence. (from the Afterword)

Strangers I Know is Elizabeth Harris's translation of Claudia Durastanti's La straniera, a finalist for the Premio Strega in 2019. Narrated by a woman resembling the author (a character or a person, depending on how you see me) it opens strikingly with two differ
Matthew Ted
14th book of 2022

This is Fitzcarraldo’s latest publication, a translation of Claudia Durastanti’s 2019 novel, La straniera, in English as Strangers I Know. It’s a real smorgasbord of a book, a portrait of a family, reflections on emigration and language, on self, and in the end, on love through the lens of the narrator (Claudia) and her boyfriend. Throughout the novel the idea of fact and reality comes up time and again, something that is becoming evidently more and more popular in today’s world
Jan 17, 2022 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2022
From the Afterword:
“Genre, in the end, is just a game of possibilities and clues; it takes only a little misstep to slip out of a novel, to fall into an autobiography and resurface again as an essay, all in the short span of a sentence.”

And from the Acknowledgements:
“I believe in open and shapeshifting texts that truly become themselves only through another voice and gaze.”

These two quotes that you get to on completing this book summarise what it feels like when reading the actual narrative. It
Kasa Cotugno
A most unusual memoir in that the author has said that no matter where a reader begins, they can proceed. Having experienced the audible version, I was unable to move from episode to episode except but lineraly, this aspect didn't affect me, but Durastanti's writing is lively and her memories at times hilarious in this unsentimental recapturing of what it meant to be raised by two deaf parents in two countries, and how the importance of words and meanings can affect relationships. ...more
Eric Anderson
Claudia, the narrator of “Strangers I Know”, begins her story by describing her unusual situation as the daughter of deaf parents who've never taught her sign language. They can speak to each other because her parents read lips, but they still establish a very unique form of communication as Claudia invents imperfect hand gestures to convey what she wants to say. Her parents aren't necessarily trustworthy as they tell her contradictory stories about how they met. Nor can she rely upon them for s ...more
Maria Carmo
This book is literature... It is melancholic, stern and always surprising... Yet, some of it doesn't touch the heart, while the last part comes much closer to the reader.
My feelings are divided. I can sympathise with most of what the Author shares, yet she remains bolted in the way she makes the whole book so much about her own identity that maybe the reader, being also "foreign" cannot FEEL that the story is universal. And yet, it is! We are all "foreign" and at the same time, we are all bound
Jul 21, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Can a book be about everything and nothing at the same time? To a certain extent Claudia Durastanti’s novel Strangers I Know toes this line. I mean there is a plot but it’s done in a semi fragmented way. In a way I was reminded of a more polished Sebald in places.

The main focus is that the narrator’s focuses on the fact that she was brought up by deaf parents. As the narrative proceeds the books idea begin to expand: the couple divorce and move to different countries: Italy and the U.S., thus th
Susan Tunis
Mar 08, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. I really liked this! I'm always ranting about books all sounding alike. THIS is a story I've never heard before. But perhaps calling it a story is misleading. Claudia is our adult narrator. She's reflecting back on her life, specifically through the lens of her family. Both of her parents were deaf, and this is almost the least notable thing about them. To suggest that they are deeply flawed would be an understatement. Words like criminal and mentally ill are also apt. But that makes ...more
Jul 27, 2022 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
[3.5] There are ideas for about a half a dozen novels packed in the autobiographical Strangers I Know, but the ideas are not given space to develop within such short book; however, reading the novel was somehow a pleasure throughout. Still, with some of the musings on Claudia’s personal matters, I left wondering if the reader’s interest in such matters is taken for granted. Conflicted feelings but, for the most part, a positive experience.
Mar 22, 2022 rated it liked it
3.5 stars but might change the rating to 4 not quite sure. It was both like a story I've read before but also not like something else. The writing was intriguing but I can't quite pin point on what exactly I enjoyed ...more
Ana de Oliveira Casella
Amazing book that made me stop in almost every paragraph just to digest the beauty and profoundness of its reflections. I am sure I will come back to it again and again.
An ultimately moving, though sometimes uneasy, experience. Claudia Durastanti has a complex relationship with language, borne of an equally complex relationship with her parents, and it comes through in this novel that defies categorization. She writes on a number of subjects (e.g., growing up with deaf parents, a youth spent between Brooklyn and the small town Basilicata in Southern Italy, living in a big city, money and poverty, etc.) and sometimes I felt a little lost because these chapters-s ...more
Jun 01, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Claudia Durastani has written a beautiful, strange autofictional novel. In her description of her life the all pervasive theme is, fitting, the multitude of "strangenesses" she embodies. Her identity as daughter of two deaf parents who live in Italy, migrate to the US, break and split up before her mother takes her back to her rural hometown is shattered and intense, her rebellion very understandable and utterly strange and her attempt to build her own future, to find a place of her own fascinat ...more
Dennis Jacob
Mar 04, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Normally I would spend a day or two reading a book of this size but this time I just couldn’t do it. I had to let the story breathe. Take everything in at a slow pace.
Claudia Durastanti writes a novel that is a memoir - a memoir that is a novel - and something in between.

The book is divided into sections that Durastanti originally wanted to be published in a varied order. To uproot the usual idea of a linear narrative. We hear about a young woman, the daughter of two deaf parents, and from the
Jul 21, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An extraordinary story. Some chapters grab you by the throat, especially those about Durastanti’s parents. Other chapters however are just hard to get through; the writing (or is it perhaps the Dutch translation?) is complicated and a lot of the descriptions don’t work for me. Often the fragmentation alienates instead of adding an extra layer to the story.
Richard Thompson
I don't know. I enjoyed the history of the parents and the part about the narrator's childhood. My interest and imagination were instantly captured by the ambiguous opening in which she tells two completely contradictory stories of how her parents met. Then she proceeds with the story of her childhood and youth in a poor Italian family, in which the parents are deaf (but not the children). They go back and forth between Italy and America, and there is a nice contrast in the way that they live di ...more
— “I was convinced that love came with that principle of estrangement, of crystalized unspoken things between lovers.”

— “I was still a monster, but I was no longer alone: the greatest violence I’ve ever committed against another hasn’t been leaving a person or breaking his heart; it was turning him into someone like me.”

Feb 06, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was obsessed with the totally original narrative. Truly ground breaking. Yet I felt that the book had large sections that were over written. Took me out a lot Nevertheless, I appreciate what this book was doing in regards to fiction and what fiction can do.
Text Publishing
The following book reviews have been shared by Text Publishing – publisher of Strangers I Know:

‘Brave and deeply felt…Here the novel is not only a medium of illumination, but also a buoy cast into the dark waters of memory, imagination, and boldly embodied questions. In other words, it is my favorite kind of writing, the kind that not only tells of the world—but burrows through it, alive.’
Ocean Vuong

‘Formally innovative and emotionally complex, this novel explores themes of communication, fami
Jul 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
What a shame, I had high expectations of this much praised memoir by a young Italian author growing up in Basilicata and New York as a daughter of two deaf parents. I just couldn't get into it. It started off well but got gradually more and more boring. The characters are not developed, there is no real storyline or plot but very fragmentary, the quality of the chapters differs enormously, there are some great sentences but they don't make a great book... ...more
Lorri Steinbacher
Mar 02, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Family drama for those readers who like "thinkers". ...more
Pip Braund
I’m quite sick of vignettes at the moment unless they’re excellent (whereabouts by jhumpa lahiri) and these were not excellent. quite boring occasionally interrupted by interesting sentences or concepts
Maria Fernanda Gama
Sep 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully crafted book. Looking forward to reading it again and again!
Saswati Saha Mitra
Strangers I Know by Claudia Durastanti is a heart warming book. I love stories about families functional and dysfunctional and this is one of a kind in the genre.

There are lots of similarities here with Ferrante’s treatment of adults but unlike Ferrante, Durstanti is more indulgent of the human folly and perhaps, more forgiving.

Durastanti handles multigenerational families exceedingly well for the boon and curse they are and this book is all about those vibrant personalities who fleet in and out
Yulidsa Bedoya Zúñiga
Some thoughts I had while reading this one:
- Damn, I really wish I'd written this book. If I could choose any book to have written, I'd be this one,
- I never want to read another book, so that this one can be the last one I ever read.
- Words seem to work better in Claudia's hands,
- I wish I spoke Italian so I could read the original.

A phenomenal book that truly plays around with genre, chronology, and plot. A great read for ANYONE, but especially anyone looking for thoughts on immigration, o
Mar 17, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
really chaotic in a way that i couldn't decide if i liked or didn't like but ultimately think is essential to this book as a whole. really interesting if not entirely coherent things to say about disability and family and mental illness and class. kind of like a neo-ferrante if her characters had a chance to watch paul thomas anderson movies or beverly hills 90210 ...more
Camila Russell
Jan 07, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2022
In this autobiographical fiction we follow an unnamed character, born in Brooklyn, coming of age with her brother in a household where communication has always been a problem. Her parents are deaf and never taught her sign language. Communication between family members was chaotic, almost impossible. The discrepancies between her parents start even on how they both met, and when they finally decide to divorce, she leaves with her mother and brother to a village in southern Italy.

The book is abo
Daniela Lawson
May 10, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The story of a family is more like a map than a novel, and an autobiography is the summation of all the geological ages you've passed through."

"You dive deep into your I, and you figure out that you're not a map, no matter how wide you are, how marred; you're never just a single artifact with a simple label, but a complex and ever-growing crystal, with its light ever changing, and ever capable of surviving time."

Strangers I Know is a topical dissection on life stories, particularly Claudia's l
Jun 17, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
More like this.
Loosely related chapters, not a straight narrative. In the afterward Durastanti said she wished every book would have a different chapter sequence to give every reader a different experience and to make it clear there is no obvious entrance or exit to life (or family). It's a little like traveling with someone and your conversations travel from topic to topic with the same cast of characters.

It's a book about disability, deafness and will, natives and strangers, the feral and the
Mads Motema
Sep 12, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 Stars. This book took a while to grow on me for sure. It at first felt like this kind of book where you go “i think this is probably art but i don’t understand it”. I think i was on page like… 140 or something when i started to like it and by the end i did really like it. It’s a bit weird in the way it tells the story of the narrator, it’s all over the place and i had a hard time getting some sort of idea of who she is as a person. However i feel like this is kind of the point of this book, ...more
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Claudia Durastanti è una scrittrice e traduttrice italiana. Si laurea in antropologia culturale all'Università La Sapienza di Roma, per poi proseguire gli studi alla De Montfort University di Leicester e tornando a La Sapienza per un master in editoria e giornalismo.

Ha lavorato come consulente editoriale per il Salone del libro di Torino e ha cofondato il Festival Italian of Literature in London.


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