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Claudia Durastanti, Strangers I Know

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"Strangers I Know is a flame held up to the inexpressible self."

Every family has its own mythology, but in this family none of the myths match up. Claudia’s mother says she met her husband when she stopped him from jumping off a bridge. Her father says it happened when he saved her from an attempted robbery. Both parents are deaf but couldn’t be more different. Into this unlikely yet somehow inevitable union, our narrator is born. She comes of age in this strange, and increasingly estranged, household split between a small village in southern Italy and New York City. Without even sign language in common – her parents have not bothered to teach her – family communications are rife with misinterpretations. An outsider in every way, she longs for a freedom she’s not even sure exists. Only books and punk rock – and a tumultuous relationship – begin to show her the way to create her own mythology, to construct her own version of the story of her life. Kinetic, daring and strikingly original, Strangers I Know is a funny and profound portrait of an unconventional family that makes us look anew at how language shapes our understanding of ourselves.

Translated by Elizabeth Harris. Published by Fitzcarraldo Editions, January 2022.