The icy oblivion of the alps seen through the eyes of hermit. Available to pre-order in February or receive straight away by subscribing.
Adelmo Farandola doesn’t like people. In summer he roams the valleys, his only company a talkative, cantankerous old dog and a young mountain ranger who, Adelmo Farandola suspects, is spying on him.
When winter comes, man and dog are snowed in. With stocks of wine and bread depleted, they pass the time squabbling over scraps, debating who will eat the other first.
Spring brings a more sinister discovery that threatens to break Adelmo Farandola’s already faltering grip on reality: a man’s foot poking out of the receding snow.

I was so thrilled to have received an email with an invite to review this beautifully covered translated novella from the independent publisher Peirene Press, Maddie the publishing assistant over at PP kindly swiftly sent out a copy of Snow, Dog, Foot, so all my thanks goes there. Snow, Dog, Foot by Claudio Morandini was originally written in Italian and translated to English beautifully by J Ockenden. If you’re a fan of translated fiction, this novella is published today with 50p of every sale going to charity. You can treat yourself to a paperback copy directly from Peirene Press here.

Neve, cane, piede, first published in 2015 is Claudio Morandini’s sixth book. The novel is a literary phenomenon; a top-five Italian bestseller, it won the Procida-Elsa Morante-Isola di Arturo prize in 2016 and has been translated into French, Spanish and Turkish. It appears here for the first time in English.

J Ockenden is a translator, journalist, broadcaster, poet and winner of the 2019 Peirene Stevns Translation Prize. After entering the prize with a translation of the first chapter, J was awarded a writer’s retreat in the Pyrenees, where the work was completed. This is J’s first full-length literary translation.

Imagine, the unforgiving terrain of the Italian Alps, a lonely grumpy man that avoids the comings and goings of the people he shares a village with by becoming a hermit in a cabin up the valley.  Adelmo meets a stray who very quickly becomes his companion as his grasp on reality begins to slip and his memory becomes more affected as it slips further into perimeters of madness.
Not only has Claudio created an extremely human story that delves into the deterioration of the brain, but he has also pens the most beautiful atmospheric setting, allowing the reader to feel the intense cold of a winter in proximity of the alps. The unforgiving setting pairs with the unforgiving illnesses of the brain creates for a dark and uncomfortable read, with flecks of humour and sadness – it is quite the read.
Adelmo prefers the isolation of winter, where his cabin is not surrounded by hikers and tourists, a time when he can hibernate himself away with his haul of supplies. Begrudgingly Adelmo allows his canine companion to stay with him, but before long they are bickering over scraps of food as Adelmo refuses to accept that they haven’t just eaten – this again reflects his flailing grasp on reality as he begins to have conversations with this strange dog but he also posses the ability to still feel some sort of empathy at this point. I adored this book, I adored the way that Claudio has penned a read that has created a captivating image of a man who is becoming mentally incoherent, it’s heart-breaking and eye opening.
The whole novel is exquisitely written, superbly translated and so bereft when I’d finished the last page, the writing, the setting and the story just entranced me – I also enjoyed the inclusion of a mystery that demonstrates the impact that Adelmo’s mind is having on his cognitive function, from decision making to the panic that comes hand in hand with it. Although approximately 120 pages, the plotline is quite hard-hitting because although Adelmo is a fictional character, he is the face of many who live with illnesses that affect the brain and it does help you understand by showing the world and thoughts through their eyes – it’s personal.

Thanks again to Peirene Press for gifting me this book that I completely fell in love with, thank you for introducing me to a fantastic author, as well as a great translator. I can’t wait to read Claudio’s future work.

Until next time,
Happy reading!

 (Danielle, The Reading Closet)
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