PUBLISHERS OF LITERARY FICTION SINCE 1983
This is what the judges said about Judith Landry's translation of Portrait of a Family with a Fat Daughter by Margherita Giacobino when announcing the five-book shortlist:
This engaging novel follows four generations of a family living in the Alpine foothills outside Turin, spanning the late nineteenth century to the “economic miracle” of the 1950s and 60s, as they climb out of poverty into a new world of TV dinners and other novelties. It's Margherita Giacobino's first appearance in English, and her prior accomplishments as writer and translator shine through in this finely crafted saga. Combining fact and fiction, the narrator's grandmother emigrates to California and returns to Italy partially paralyzed after complications during childbirth. In the next generation, the narrator's eight-year-old mother returns to Italy upon her father's death, to be raised by distant relatives, become Italian (again), and wed an alluring “man-boy” whose character and time in a German prison camp in World War II are evocatively described. Her small shop gradually expands and lifts the family out of the working class; her studious daughter Margherita grows up amid an extended matriarchal family to become the writer of this book. It has been compared to “a rural version of Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan saga,” but remains staunchly unique in its powerful, atmospheric portrayal of largely unexplored terrain. A winner of the English PEN Award, this sweeping narrative explores what it means to be Italian across oceans and historical epochs. Its vivid descriptions and deep cultural understanding leave a lasting mark.
Portrait of a Family with a Fat Daughter by Margherita Giacobino, translated by Judith Landry
Dedalus £12.99/$17.99 304 pages