As the title says, today’s needull is a review of the Italian book – Domenico Starnone’s Ties, translated by Jhumpa Lahiri.
But let us turn to the novel itself. The title, Ties, is suggestive: it’s a text about the making and breaking of bonds and about the baggage (physical and psychological) accumulated in the process. A cheating husband leaves his wife and children only to return years later to his family. After almost five decades of married life, the couple’s apartment in Rome is ransacked while they are on vacation and the past emerges from the debris of hoarded objects. Thus the past acquires material and spatial form, and husband, wife, and children must reckon with it as they sift through the physical reminders of suppressed traumas. Ties, as the Italian scholar Daniela Brogi writes, is “not simply a novel about marital crisis, it is a text which enacts on its pages the imagined scenarios of failed self-realization upheld by the indestructible pillars of marriage.” Ties, then, is a novel about marriage as an institution and its relationship to self-perception and self-fulfillment, whether through the wife’s meticulous documentation of marital life, through the husband’s selfish pursuit of professional and sexual gratification, or through the children’s witnessing of the dissolution and eventual reconstitution of the family.