A riveting coming-of-age story and Times bestseller set during a scorching Italian summer, told with the breathless precision of a Hitchcock noir.
'Utterly gripped me from beginning to end' Victoria Hislop | 'Move over Ferrante, there's a new Elena in town' Independent | 'There is much beauty and sadness in this slim novel' The Times | 'A novel of crime and darkness that eschews straightforward domestic noir' Guardian
In the August of 1978, the summer I met Anna Trabuio, my father took a girl into the woods...
I was sixteen.
He had been gone a long time already, but that was it - not even a year after he lost his job and that boy disappeared - that was when everything broke.
Ponte, a small community in Northern Italy. An unbearably hot summer like many others.
Elia Furenti is sixteen, living an unremarkable life of moderate unhappiness, until the day the beautiful, damaged Anna returns to Ponte and firmly propels Elia to the edge of adulthood.
But then everything starts to unravel.
Elia's father, Ettore, is let go from his job and loses himself in the darkest corners of his mind.
A young boy is murdered.
And a girl climbs into a van and vanishes in the deep, dark woods...
Translated by Alex Valente | Winner of an English PEN Award.
Can You Hear Me? poignantly touches on problems of friendships, families and coming of age in a small community in northern Italy. There is much beauty and sadness in this slim novel. - Marcel Berlins, The Times
'I love books I can read all in one sitting (maybe with a break to make tea) and can you hear me? by Elena Varvello was one of these. A thriller, a mystery, a coming-of-age story that utterly gripped me from beginning to end - and the translation from the original Italian never for a second gets in the way' - Victoria Hislop, Good Housekeeping
Haunting... Set in a small Italian town in the late 1970s, Can You Hear Me? reads like a collaboration between Daphne du Maurier and Megan Abbott, a superb psychological study marinated in a teenage boy's simmering hormones. A poet and award-winning short-story writer in her native Italy, Varvello writes tautly lyrical prose (beautifully translated by Alex Valente), delivering an absorbing tale that draws the reader into a nightmarish fever dream of isolation and paranoia given a chilling sense of inevitability by Varvello's matter-of-fact tone and Elia's deadpan narration. - Declan Burke, Irish Times
ELENA VARVELLO was born in Turin, Italy, in 1971. She has published two collections of poetry, Perseveranza e salutare and Atlanti, a collection of short stories, L'economia delle cose (nominated for the Premio Strega, the Italian equivalent of the Man Booker Prize), and two novels, La luce perfetta del giorno and La vita felice, now translated into English as Can you hear me? (English PEN Award 2017).
She teaches creative writing at the Scuola Holden in Turin.
ALEX VALENTE is a European half-Yorkshire, half-Tuscan freelance translator.
He has researched comics, poetry, and their translation, co-edits The Norwich Radical, regularly translates for Italian literary agencies, and does voluntary work for non-profit organisations.
He's on Twitter as @DrFumetts.