ITALIAN film director Fausto Brizzi’s debut novel has a now-familiar premise: after a terminal cancer diagnosis, Lucio Battistini chooses to spend his final three months winning back his estranged wife and rebuilding their family.
Picador, €20.55; ebook, €10.20
Translator Antony Shugaar does a commendable job of conveying Brizzi’s humour; the liberal use of English music and film references cause wonder about necessary substitutions, but otherwise the text flows and often provokes laughs.
Yet Brizzi’s diary-entry writing style emphasises the protagonist’s shallow, selfish nature; his wife Paola and two children are barely more than a list of described attributes.
A third-act road trip ramps up the action and there is a surprise conclusion, but having Lucio basically ignore ‘his friend Fritz’ means Brizzi avoids the upsetting, day-to-day repercussions of treating tumours. While this is a valid decision for cancer sufferers, the result is an attempt at an upbeat story that fails to ring true.
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