The Distractions

Original title: Le distrazioni

Publication Date:

May 2022



Original language and publisher

Italian | HarperCollins Italy

Territories Handled

English (North America), Netherlands

Territories Sold

Film/TV rights (sold)
Russia (Sindbad)
Macedonia (Ars Studio)


Literary Fiction


  • Bancarella Prize (Finalist)
  • Premio DeA Planeta 2020 (Winner)

The Distractions

Original title: Le distrazioni


“Through intense flashbacks, De Paolis walks with us inside the couple, where Viola and Paolo’s feelings and expectations emerge little by little. Progressively the book reveals itself for what it is: a powerful, deep, intense love story lashed by a disgrace, that not only disrupts the couple’s feelings, but it shakes their minds as well. A crescendo of anguish that lasts till the last page.” – Maria Grazia Calandrone – il Corriere della sera

“A breathtaking story, the spasmodic search of a child while the lens zooms in on a broken couple relationship. A perfect concentric novel, a descent into the dark sides of family relationships” – Io Donna

“Fascinating novel about the fragile balance of a young couple in crisis, hanging by a very thin thread that could fray at any moment.” – Vanity Fair

“Federica De Paolis gives voice to the dark side of normality, to silences, omissions, small lies and unpronounceable truths. “Up close no one is normal” is just what comes to mind reading the masterful ‘The Distractions’ by Federica De Paolis. How many people seem in perfect balance and then, if we zoom in on their lives, they reveal the dark side of their everyday life?” – News Italy 24

“A novel that should be read as a descent into the abyss of a loss that leads to a tiring rediscovery of the inner self. A love story that passes through the loss of a desire, a sparkle that flares up, but only this way it can illuminate a lifetime.” – La Stampa

“Do you realize what we have done?”

Viola is struggling with new motherhood. Exhausted and in conflict with her partner Paolo, she spends her days with 18-month-old Elia, the child she wanted and sought so much to the point of putting herself through the ordeal of the assisted conception. When Elia was finally born, after so many difficulties, arguments and misunderstandings, Viola feels that something is missing. That she is not the mother she was supposed to be. That love is not enough to avoid Paolo and her from drifting apart. Moreover, just two years before, Viola had an accident that caused her a brain damage. Since that day her memory has started to blur and everything has been tiring for her, almost unbearable. One day Viola leaves Elia in the neighbourhood park, convinced that Paolo is on his way to pick him up in just a few minutes. But Paolo has to go back to work, urgently, and Elia is left alone, abandoned to his fate in a part of Rome as desolate as a moor. Thus, an anguish search begins, a search that, at the same time, delves into Viola and Paolo’s thoughts and memories, lost in their distractions and unspoken words, desperately seeking a key to understand each other’s and themselves.

Federica De Paolis returns with a powerful and evocative novel written with a precise, clear, and almost surgical style. The Distractions is a story about a dysfunctional couple and the world they live into, and the story they tell themselves. A realistic, unflinching, and brilliant look at relationships and coupledom as well as a crucial exploration of the struggles of parenthood, that illuminates the silences that hide in everyone’s life and ultimately gives them voice.

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