Tommaso Soldini’s Hopeless is almost feral. One of those novels that are not only hard to define, but flout the very idea of definition. Unabashedly set in a very near future (2024-25), it narrates the vicissitudes of an investigative journalist, Michele Incassa, father of two girls, who is unexpectedly abandoned by his wife Gemma. In order to win her back, he finds himself chasing her shadow in the Petite Princesse, a club for swingers suspended between dream and reality. As if this were not enough, a news report embroils him in a meticulously inventive reconstruction of an attempted murder, in particular of the hours and days before the incident. These parallel interwoven narratives dismantle the predictable, routine notions of what we call — in a naïve simplification — “reality”, or even “truth”.
In Italy, as in most Western cultures, the 1960s was a dynamic and turbulent decade of social change. Dacia Maraini, in this short story collection, explores the vexing, tragic, and often humorous experiences of women living in modern urban Italy.
With a style as lean as Samuel Beckett’s, and a love of the absurd that rivals Eugene Ionesco, Maraini’s stories are both poignant and wickedly funny. The writer’s ironic lens zooms in to examining sexual relations, working conditions, women’s issues, and family dynamics, illuminating the lives of an entire generation. With classic existential angst, Maraini’s characters are often profoundly dissatisfied with their situations, but also ill-equipped to initiate any real change. This feminist version of the absurd is deliciously wry and terrible. The stories have a real bite.
Originally published as Mio marito in 1968, this is the first English translation of My Husband.