Author: Domenico Starnone Translated from the Italian by Jhumpa Lahiri
Publisher: Europa Editions
Genre: Literary Fiction, Novella
Two people meet. They fall in love. Their affair is passionate and almost magical. They push each other’s buttons and finally make a pact about telling their darkest secrets to each other – with the promise of trust, thinking that they will forever be with each other. Till the young teacher Pietro and his young student Teresa aren’t together. Till they both find other people to love and the secrets shared continues to haunt them, and both stop trusting each other.
Starnone’s writing is simple. The emotions aren’t. They are messy and all over the place. The first part is told by Pietro and somehow you can see where the power lies in this relationship. But of course, it is quite obvious. The power shift only because Teresa knows what she does and the fact that he fears what might happen if the world knows of it.
Starnone’s writing is balanced and mostly to the point. He is aware of what his characters do, the way they feel, the dilemmas they are caught in, and with the understanding of the kind of control they have, they navigate their lives in the world. The second part is told by Pietro’s daughter Emma, and with this change of narrative, the reader doubts what was known before. How characters betray each other, and do they even know themselves is then the crux.
Jhumpa Lahiri’s translation is perfect. What is interesting is how she perceives the writing – given that the perspective is largely male and how she brings Teresa to the fore with her immaculate translation.
Yes there are moral blind spots in the book and yes you cannot take sides as you read it, or keep shifting sides if that happens, but this is what makes Trust such an interesting read.