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Head of Zeus
Distant Fathers
03 Feb 2022 * EBOOK * £9.99 * 9781803280929

A memoir by Italian-Latvian author Marina Jarre. Steeped in the history of twentieth-century Europe, this memoir probes questions of time, language, womanhood, belonging and estrangement, while asking what homeland can be for those who have none, or many more than one.

Non Fiction / BM (Memoir)
Extent: 240 pages
Exclusive: GB AU NZ IN ZA SG   Not for sale: CA US
Distant Fathersby Marina Jarre, translated by Ann Goldstein

An extraordinary, luminous memoir that unfurls from author Marina Jarre's native Latvia in the 1920s and expands southward to the Italian countryside.

'Beautifully ingenious ... Saturated in the history of the European 20th century, and made all the more compelling by Ann Goldstein's luminous translation' Vivian Gornick

'Her masterwork' New York Times

'Ann Goldstein's shimmering translation of Jarre's prose delivers into English a European masterpiece' Benjamin Taylor

'Lucid, luminous prose ... The first of her books available in English [and] it must not be the last' Los Angeles Review of Books

In distinctive writing as poetic as it is precise, Jarre depicts an exceptionally multinational and complicated family: her elusive, handsome father – a Jew who perished in the Holocaust; her severe, cultured mother – an Italian Lutheran who translated Russian literature; and her sister and Latvian grandparents. Jarre narrates her passage from childhood to adolescence, first as a linguistic minority in a Baltic nation and then in traumatic exile to Italy after her parents' divorce, where she lives with her maternal grandparents among a community of French-speaking Waldensian Protestants and discovers that fascist Italy is a problematic home for a Riga-born Jew.

First published in 1987 and now translated into English for the first time, this powerful and incisive memoir is steeped in the history of twentieth-century Europe, and probes questions of time, language, womanhood, belonging and estrangement, while asking what homeland can be for those who have none, or many more than one.

Marina Jarre was born in 1925 in Riga to a Latvian Jewish father and an Italian Protestant mother. She spent her childhood in Latvia until 1935, when her parents separated and she moved to Italy to live with her maternal grandparents. By the time of her death in 2016, Jarre had written over a dozen novels, short story collections and works of non-fiction, of which Distant Fathers is hailed as her masterwork.

A forgotten literary gem – first published in 1987 and now translated into English for the first time.

Touches on themes including time, language, place, womanhood and family, and depicts the turbulence of twentieth-century Europe.

Translated by Ann Goldstein, the translator of the bestselling Elena Ferrante novels

MARKET: Elena Ferrante; Annie Ernaux; Maria Stepanova; Deborah Levy.


'This is a beautifully ingenious memoir, saturated in the history of the European 20th century, and made all the more compelling by Ann Goldstein's luminous translation' Vivian Gornick

'Lucid, luminous prose ... The first of her books available in English [and] it must not be the last' Los Angeles Review of Books

'It's an incalculable source of joy when one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century can resume dialogue with the readers of today' Il Libraio

'Ann Goldstein's shimmering translation of Jarre's prose delivers into English a European masterpiece' Benjamin Taylor

'Gems of language and ideas abound ... Lyrical prowess ... Haunting prose' Publishers Weekly

'It probes questions of time, language, womanhood, belonging and estrangement, while asking what a homeland can be for those who have none – or several' The Bookseller

'Like Nabokov's Speak, Memory, this book is more concerned with time and perspective than narrative storytelling, though Jarre is more like Ferrante in her lack of nostalgia and unflinching focus on the difficulties of relationships' Kirkus

'Marina Jarre's vibrant memoir is stunning in its intimacy, honesty, and finely observed detail' Hilma Wolitzer

'Marina Jarre's astonishing work reads like a dreamscape. Here, a Nabokovian memory mingles with meditations on homeland, womanhood, and sexuality. A book both sharp as a blade and glistening like a river in the sun' Lila Azam Zanganeh

'Marina Jarre is an original, powerful and incisive writer ... Her works – true, small-scale, essential masterpieces – have found passionate readers and critics and have an indisputable place in Italian literature of the past fifty years' Claudio Magris

'An extraordinary memoir from a writer with an unforgettable voice ... Distant Fathers is remarkable because of Jarre's ability to render her inner world precisely, including her lifelong sense of detachment' Shelf Awareness

'A great book finally receives the notice it deserves ... Prolific and distinguished, Ann Goldstein is an ideal translator for Jarre's provocative combination of psychological insight, feminist critique, transnational reflections, and historical interrogations' Reading in Translation

'Recounts a life of displacement through rich sense memories ... The book's elliptical string of fragments captures the nonlinear nature of memory' New Yorker

'This impressionistic memoir by an overlooked Italian writer – the child of a Christian mother and a Jewish father killed in the Holocaust – is seen as her masterwork' New York Times

'This stunning autobiography is both a love letter to a flawed and vanished childhood and a map of a woman's inner topography as she fumbles toward identity' Words Without Borders

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