A modest apartment in Via Gemito smelling of paint and turpentine. Its furniture pushed up against the wall to create a make-shift studio. Drying canvases moved from bed to floor each night. Federí, the father, a railway clerk, is convinced that he possesses great artistic promise. If it weren’t for the family he must feed and the jealousy of his fellow Neapolitan artists, nothing would stop him from becoming a world-famous painter. Ambitious and frustrated, genuinely talented but also arrogant and resentful, Federí is scarred by constant disappointment. He is a larger-than-life character, a liar, a fabulist, and his fantasies shape the lives of those around him, especially his young son, Mimi, short for Domenico, who will spend a lifetime trying to get out from under his father’s shadow.
Starnone, a finalist for the National Book Award with Trick, author of New York Times notable book of the year, Ties, and the critically acclaimed Trust, takes readers beyond the slim, novella-length works for which he is known by American readers to create a vast fresco of family, fatherhood, and modern Naples.