Strangers I Know
Durastanti casts the universal drama of the family as the sieve through which the self--woman, artist, daughter--is filtered and known. --Ocean Vuong A work of fiction about being a stranger in your own family and life. Every family has its own mythology, but in this family none of the myths match up. Claudia's mother says she met her husband when she stopped him from jumping off a bridge. Her father says it happened when he saved her from an attempted robbery. Both parents are deaf but couldn't be more different; they can't even agree on how they met, much less who needed saving. Into this unlikely yet somehow inevitable union, our narrator is born. She comes of age with her brother in this strange, and increasingly estranged, household split between a small village in southern Italy and New York City. Without even sign language in common - their parents have not bothered to teach them - family communications are chaotic and rife with misinterpretations, by turns hilarious and devastating. An outsider in every way, she longs for a freedom she's not even sure exists. Only books and punk rock--and a tumultuous relationship--begin to show her the way to create her own mythology, to construct her own version of the story of her life. Kinetic, formally dazzling, and spectacularly original, this book is a funny and profound portrait of an unconventional family that makes us look anew at how language shapes our understanding of ourselves.