The Other Language (Hardcover)

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Description


Hailed by The New York Times as “a natural-born storyteller,” the acclaimed author of Rules of the Wild gives us nine incandescently smart stories, funny, elegant, and poignant by turns, that explore the power of change—in relationships, in geographies, and across cultures—to reveal unexpected aspects of ourselves.
 
Taking us to Venice during film festival season, where a woman buys a Chanel dress she can barely afford; to a sun-drenched Greek village at the height of the summer holidays, where a teenager encounters the shocks of first love; and to a classical dance community in southern India, where a couple gives in to the urge to wander, these remarkable tales bring to life characters stepping outside their boundaries into new passions and destinies. Enlivened by Francesca Marciano’s wit, clear eye, and stunning evocations of people and places, The Other Language is an enthralling tour de force rich with many pleasures.

About the Author


FRANCESCA MARCIANO is the author of the novels Rules of the Wild, Casa Rossa, and The End of Manners. She lives in Rome.

Praise for The Other Language…


“Magical, fleet-footed stories [that] leap around the globe, written with authority and storytelling virtuosity . . . What makes these tales stand out is Marciano’s sympathetic but wryly unsentimental ability—not unlike Alice Munro’s—to capture the entire arc of a character’s life in a handful of pages, and her precise yet fluent prose that immerses us, ineluctably, in the predicaments of her men and women . . . Captivating.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“This is an astonishing collection. Marciano’s characters are caught between the coming and going, unable to call any one place home. They struggle with self-definition. They seek re-invention. Impulsive characters, portrayed in moments of juncture, in moments of crisis, in a series of indelible scenes. Written with extraordinary clarity and elegance, The Other Language is a vision of geography as it grounds us, as it shatters us, as it transforms the soul.” —Jhumpa Lahiri

“Wry, knowing, never less than engaging . . . stories [about] the negotiations men and women make not only between themselves but between cultures, [when] reality and imagination have a tendency to bump up hard against each other—a preoccupation that becomes more pressing for all of us in an increasingly globalized world . . . ‘The Other Language’ almost has the feel of a novella: Its characters are caught sharply in its clean Greek light, and the no man’s land of adolescence is precisely and movingly described.  Marciano is a screenwriter as well as a novelist, and she knows how to hold a reader’s attention, how to set a scene. Her dialogue, unsurprisingly, is always fluid . . . The best stories in this collection have the confidence of subtlety, and a touch of the unexpected . . . When her leggerezza—lightnessshines through, her characters and their adventures take flight.” —Erica Wagner, The New York Times Book Review
 
“Marciano portrays her locales with an amazing economy and confidence . . . She has a sharp eye for the right details and a sure grip on portraying people. It takes only a few sentences for her to pull the reader right into their worlds and feel the conflicting forces swirling around them, whether set in a remote sub-Saharan African village or in overcrowded Venice during the Biennale. Her subjects are the kind of events that loom large in our lives when they occur, and remain to haunt us ever after. Her voice is confident and lucid, and she shines when presenting both the subtle and overt differences in culture and age. This is a book full of vivid imagery and scenes, which achieves its poignancy with telling observation rather than sentimentality.” —Michel Basilières, Toronto Star

“The loss of fantasy provides the undercurrent in The Other Language, whose characters—mostly women, and all attempting to balance transition with expectation—navigate change with a quiet, nearly lugubrious optimism. Marciano’s is a world in which we see and accept lives not lived. That sounds like the antithesis of summer reading, yet Marciano traverses the canals of emotion—from despair to bliss—seamlessly. Her characters will themselves to live in the moment while licking past wounds and looking toward the future. None find themselves in the future they imagined, but they all find a self-reliance that brings happiness. A lucky few even realize how adjusted expectations make our lives so much easier . . . Wonderfully engaging and penetrating.” —Andrew Belonsky, Everyday eBook

“Intensely sensuous, emotionally wise. After inhaling the stories from [this] brilliant new collection, my first urge (it may soon be yours) is to race out to acquire every other work [Marciano] has made. Her clean, straightforward language moves crisply and takes shapely form. Her imagery vibrates. To open to any page of The Other Language is to be drawn at once into her characters’ minds and hearts, to recognize and care about what happens, and (bewitched by the stately music of her narrating voice) to want to stay on. Marciano nimbly depicts lives entwined in Italy, Africa and New York, each (per Alice Munro, whose work Marciano's resembles) ‘a lifetime glimpsed in a moment.’ Her deep, laser-accurate understanding of how we think about what we undertake, at every phase of life, love and folly, astonishes. One finishes this collection feeling altered, provoked, exhilarated . . . Complex, rigorous . . . Pure wonder, veined with passages that glitter.” —Joan Frank, San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Captivating . . . The Other Language features flirtations with the exotic [that] prompt a sea change, [from] an adolescent crush at the beach [to] a Chanel dress that acquires a talisman-like power. With a nod to Paul Bowles, Marciano evokes the freedom found in not belonging, as the heroine of her title story explains: ‘She felt she had finally become . . . someone who thought, dreamed and made love in a different language.’” —Megan O’Grady, Vogue
 
“Exquisite, transporting . . . The book transcends physical travel, celebrating the power of encountering new cultures, personalities and truths, and ultimately discovering different versions of ourselves. Four stars.” —Robin Micheli, People
 
“Glamorous . . . The women in Marciano’s globe-trotting new book are in search of transformation as they attempt to change their lives. They are usually women untethered from domestic routines, if only temporarily . . . A new dress, a change of scene, a spontaneous invitation—Marciano understands that these are the superficial actions people take in order to get at the deeper impulses they cannot name. Her characters are often surprised by the way their lives are overturned, even as they are the ones to initiate the upheaval . . . Reading Marciano, I was reminded of an old writing teacher’s adage, ‘Bewilderment is the most human of emotions.’ Marciano allows her characters their bewilderment, their curiosity, and above all, their vulnerability. The result is a collection of stories that is as entertaining as it is humane.” —Hannah Gersen, The Millions

“Featuring stories set in Greece, Rome, India, and even a remote island off the coast of Tanzania, Marciano’s collection helps us do a bit of armchair traveling . . . Nine smart and elegant tales of people, and change—those looking for it, dealing with it, and getting surprised by it—inside and out.” —Dame Magazine

“Thrilling, delicious, gorgeous . . . Marciano’s protagonists live in other countries, or with new or broken relationships. Like competent speakers of a foreign language, they cope—brilliantly sometimes—but they are never entirely sure-footed; pitfalls open at their feet . . . Marciano uses the tightness of the short story to focus sharply on the effect places [have] on their sense of self. Foreign places are not backgrounds or settings; they are participants affecting the protagonists as much as, or more, than anything else in their lives. This is one of those truths that can be hard to see or easy to discount. [But] it is brought sharply into focus by Marciano’s steely handling of language and her pellucid evocation of place . . . Powerful.” —Claire Hopley, The Washington Times

“Impressive . . . With bilingual fluidity and a geographic carousel as a CV, Francesca Marciano’s worldview is expansive and deft. Her nine-story collection examines the very notion of a ‘journey.’ And where it may take us. Jettisoning exhausted re-invention clichés, she observes her actors as they choose fresh settings, and sometimes-unfamiliar grammars. What they desire is to move beyond familiar boundaries—of all kinds—in search of a ‘real’ or ‘other’ self. In this self-hunt, eight of Marciano’s third person tales focus on female protagonists, women juggling volcanic life changes and emotions . . . The heart of this book lies in a question: What happens when we deliberately pass a threshold, or open a hidden door? . . . Marciano’s sparkling collection poignantly traces an eternal human dream: that there is a better life, worth living. Perhaps in a change of geography, language, or identity. As her ironically provocative tales prove: the dream goes on. Penetrating, bittersweet.” —Patricia E. Fogarty, The American

“Compelling . . . The characters in Marciano’s stories are displaced—both geographically and in matters of the heart. They are educated, well-heeled and discontent, adrift in an ever-contracting world that has clouded the notion of home. The title story—one of the finest—begins with an enticing Alice Munro-like premise . . . In 'An Indian Soirée,' reminiscent of the atmospheric, incisive stories of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, a couple has come to the subcontinent for an extended sojourn, and in one the space of one morning their marriage falls apart . . . 'Quantum Theory,' set in Africa and New York, offers a bittersweet meditation on the significant difference between falling in love and being in love . . . Many of these nine well-crafted and entertaining stories are built on chance encounters, and in Marciano’s assured hands the reader accepts the intervention of fate without question. These are stories about finding love in a fragile world, but even more, about all of the connections—past and present—that shape us and anchor us in place.” —Robert Weibezahl, BookPage

“Seductive, cosmopolitan . . . In The Other Language, romance is the cure for ennui. Marciano’s heroines take the kind of risks most of us have been conditioned to avoid: they reconnect with lost lovers, migrate to faraway lands, and forge liaisons beyond the bounds of their race, culture, and class. Marciano is an apt guide to these exotic lives, [and] she engages us intimately with them . . . Frustrated communication is a recurrent theme, as is the quest for the elusive person or place that allows one to feel at home. In Marciano’s nuanced emotional universe, a foreigner is likely to consider herself an outsider, no matter how long she’s lived elsewhere—especially if she still dreams in her mother tongue.” —Amy Fine Collins, O, The Oprah Magazine

“From Rome with love, this elegant and colorful collection will get you seriously thinking about giving up life in the States and going to Venice, a small Greek village, or any of the other places she uses as a setting in her stories.” —Jason Diamond, Flavorwire

“You hold in your hands 304 pages of dynamite. These stories are worldly, political, and funny to boot. I’ve loved Marciano’s writing since her first novel, Rules of the Wild—but I am completely hot for The Other Language.” —Gary Shteyngart

“The Other Language is a voyage around the world, among travelers and tourists, expats and interlopers, from the fringes of the Venice Film Festival, to a sumptuous vacation spot in India, to a remote island in East Africa, and beyond. This outstanding book has a quality I find only in the best short-story collections: that, after each chapter, I cannot immediately flip to the next, but need time to absorb what has just unfolded so memorably before me. Francesca Marciano is a superb storyteller.” —Tom Rachman, author of The Imperfectionists

“I loved every single one of these affecting, suspenseful, and sublimely crafted stories. It’s clear that Francesca Marciano is worldly as well as wise, yet what she’s surprisingly insightful about is the hazardous nature of worldliness itself. Because our modern lives are so mobile, our ways of communicating so refined, we risk coming to believe that the borders defining class, culture, and gender are somehow more permeable. Think again, she tells us in these nine cautionary tales—the best new collection I’ve read in years.” —Julia Glass

“I love being in Marciano’s unpredictable worlds. These are touching and true stories about the hiddenness of the hearts of the people closest to us, and what’s hiding in our own hearts. The writing is so moving, and conveys so much truth with a marvelously light and tender touch. One feels a haunting recognition for the minuscule losses that are such a large part of everyday life.” —Sheila Heti

“An absolute delight. Marciano has conjured up a set of far-flung characters—in Rome, Venice, New York, a Greek island, the coast of East Africa—as they struggle to make sense of their geographical and emotional displacement. In their disjointed ways, they succeed in finding their own little perch, and a modicum of serenity, in this wide universe. A collection so compelling, so satisfying and ultimately so addictive that one closes the book hankering for more.” —Andrea di Robilant

“In each transfixing, emotionally charged, sexy, piquantly funny, and perfectly rendered story, Marciano makes you feel the heat of the sun, the shiver of shadow, and the shock of unforeseen lust and loss. As she dramatizes with spellbinding command the revelations of displacement, the aphrodisiac power of fame, and the slipperiness of love and authenticity, you can’t bear to finish Marciano’s superlative stories, even though you can’t wait to find out what happens.”—Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)

“Lovely . . . Each of Marciano’s nine closely observed stories of growing up, dislocation and family relationships is a gem, with fully realized characters wistfully and beautifully captured through dialogue that is both pensive and poignant.” —Kirkus (starred review)
 
“Excellent . . . Generations of Italian fled the poverty of their native country, never to return. But in this century, Italians leaving Italy are highly mobile citizens of the globalized world who, nevertheless, remain recognizably Italian. It’s these Italians who populate Marciano’s stories. Her women (and sometimes her men) don’t necessarily want what they have—they make choices and make do; they travel, get divorced, adapt. The effect is both luxurious and down to earth, a pleasurable sojourn with characters Marciano depicts as simultaneously likable and irritating, bold and retiring, types and individuals—not unlike those reading about them. [A] strong collection.” —Publishers Weekly

“Seductive, cosmopolitan . . . In The Other Language, romance is the cure for ennui. Marciano’s heroines take the kind of risks most of us have been conditioned to avoid: they reconnect with lost lovers, migrate to faraway lands, and forge liaisons beyond the bounds of their race, culture, and class. Marciano is an apt guide to these exotic lives, [and] she engages us intimately with them . . . Frustrated communication is a recurrent theme, as is the quest for the elusive person or place that allows one to feel at home. In Marciano’s nuanced emotional universe, a foreigner is likely to consider herself an outsider, no matter how long she’s lived elsewhere—especially if she still dreams in her mother tongue.” —Amy Fine Collins, O, The Oprah Magazine


 

 

 

Product Details ISBN-10: 0307908364
ISBN-13: 9780307908360
Published: Pantheon, 04/08/2014
Pages: 304
Language: English


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