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The Garden of Monsters (Il Giardino dei mostri)

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Original Language: Italian | 314 pp. | July 2019

2 Seas represents: Dutch, Nordic, French and Portuguese Rights.

Rights sold: World English (Europa Editions)

NOVEL

A complex and appealing novel, somewhere between a rural epic, a Bildungsroman and an artist’s biography.

The setting is between 1987 and 1990 in a town in Maremma, Tuscany, too famous to be named. The stories of two families – local horse breeders, the Biaginis, and the bourgeois Roman Sanfilippis – interweave, whilst the place they meet becomes the perfect stage for portraying the events taking place in Italy. And so the friendship between Sauro, an ambitious cowboy, and Filippo, a hedonist politician, who have also become business partners, will cause the other members of their families to form links or clash with one another. In the town, which at first sight displays a heady abundance of money and high spirits, political beliefs, family relationships, moral uprightness, sexual identity seem to be losing shape.

Sauro and Filippo and their wives, Miriam and Giulia, are prototypes of a fragile humanity, apparently magnanimous but mostly mean-spirited. In the midst of them the fragile Annamaria, fifteen years old with a whole lot of complexes, struggles to find her place. In particular with respect to the bright and beautiful Lisa. But a parallel world is taking shape. It’s the Tarot Garden of the FrancoAmerican artist Niki de Saint Phalle. A magic place Annamaria will gradually draw close to and where, thanks to the artist’s stories and memories, she will learn many of those life lessons that no-one in her family has ever been able or inclined to teach her. A complex and appealing novel, somewhere between a rural epic, a Bildungsroman and an artist’s biography. The unique clash between two social classes and two distant worlds forms the travail out of which a new country will be born.

Lorenza Pieri (1973) spent her childhood on the Isola del Giglio. She studied in Siena and Paris. She has worked in publishing for fifteen years (Einaudi, minimum fax). One of her short stories appeared in the anthology Roma Capoccia (Deriveapprodi, 2005) and she has published a memoir, Molto grossa, incredibilmente vicina. Un anno con la Concordia sotto le finestre, (doppiozero, 2013). She is also a literary translator (Einaudi, Marsilio, minimum fax, Ponte alle Grazie). After living and working in Rome for twelve years she has temporarily moved to the United States with her husband and two children. Her first novel Lesser Isles was published in 2016.