Swimming to Elba: A Novel

Overview

The provocative international bestseller about two young girls growing up fast in a failing industrial town on the coast of Italy
 
They were always a pair: daring, intelligent Anna and breathtakingly gorgeous Francesca. Just shy of fourteen, their newly acquired curves and skimpy bathing suits have earned them celebrity status on the beaches of their gritty town, where the glittering resort island of Elba taunts them from across the ...

See more details below
Paperback (Reprint)
$14.59
BN.com price
(Save 8%)$16.00 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (33) from $1.99   
  • New (18) from $2.10   
  • Used (15) from $1.99   
Swimming to Elba: A Novel

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$9.99
BN.com price
Sending request ...

Overview

The provocative international bestseller about two young girls growing up fast in a failing industrial town on the coast of Italy
 
They were always a pair: daring, intelligent Anna and breathtakingly gorgeous Francesca. Just shy of fourteen, their newly acquired curves and skimpy bathing suits have earned them celebrity status on the beaches of their gritty town, where the glittering resort island of Elba taunts them from across the bay. The girls, aware of their newfound power, are on the brink of everything—high school, adulthood, ambition—but when their intense friendship suffers a blow, each sets off on her own, only to learn that the "glamorous" world of adult physicality can be at best banal and at worst dehumanizing. As their choices take them to a painful crossroads, the girls must reconnect if they have any hope of escaping their small-town destinies.
            Frank, sensual, and evocative of the Academy Award–winning film Cinema Paradiso and the international bestseller The Solitude of Prime Numbers, Swimming to Elba is a harrowing yet redemptive meditation on politics, family, sex, and the lasting power of friendship.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Lib�ration
“A galvanizing social novel, spacious and strenuous, like a film that would have been cosigned by Ken Loach and Gus Van Sant.”
Le Parisien
“Powerful. As trenchant as it is true.”
Libération
“A galvanizing social novel, spacious and strenuous, like a film that would have been cosigned by Ken Loach and Gus Van Sant.”
Goffredo Fofi
“Characters unlike any you’ll find in Italian literature nowadays.”
Giorgio De Rienzo
“A book that skims close to the realm of the epic in its description of the desperate and empty lust for life of a tribe of young people and the small and vast tragedies that emerge from their struggles.”
Giovanni Tesio
“A novel capable of holding together—in the drift or in the tragedy of many lives—the thread of a hope that springs from two young lives that may be destined to fit together.”
Giovanni Pacchiano
“Silvia Avallone has a gift for painting a believable picture of not only her two leading characters, but of a crowd of actors: grief-stricken women, lazy factory workers, brutish thugs who frequent lap-dancing bars, young girls and boys who want to make the world their own. . . . Something verging on the operatic elegantly fills the pages of this remarkable novel.”
Giuseppe Conte
“With Silvia Avallone, we are in the presence of a natural, original, and untutored talent, capable of capturing the contradictions of her own time in a rebellious, heartbreaking way. But the greatness of this book, at once carnal and chaste [...] lies in the powerful way that it identifies beauty and friendship as the two decisive, all-encompassing emotions of adolescence. It is a book that demands love, in its truthfulness, in its refusal to turn away from the life-giving breath of poetry.”
Massimo Onofri
“Avallone skillfully tugs every thread in her tapestry with an artist’s hand. . . . This Avallone is a force of nature, with her exacting, precise prose, as in the spectacular opening passages.”
Davide Barili
“Following in the footsteps of the great tradition of a Tuscan and European author like Romano Bilenchi.”
Dacia Maraini
Swimming to Elba is intelligent and well written. It deserves its success: Silvia Avallone gives us a penetrating vision of the way the new proletariat lives. She narrates that story very well. I was reminded of Tuscan authors such as Carlo Cassola and Vasco Pratolini. She is a modern writer, but you can sense those roots.”
Gianfranco Franchi
“From this first novel, she might one day write a novel that is to literature what Bernardo Bertolucci’s Novecento was for film.”
Booklist
“Readers will devour this richly detailed, sensual bildungsroman.”
Liberation
“A galvanizing social novel, spacious and strenuous, like a film that would have been cosigned by Ken Loach and Gus Van Sant.”
Lib ration
“A galvanizing social novel, spacious and strenuous, like a film that would have been cosigned by Ken Loach and Gus Van Sant.”
Caterina Soffici
“A masterpiece of fine writing, literature in its purest state, as if the words had flowed like molten steel out of the blast furnace, to recount perfect characters and a magnificent story.”
Publishers Weekly
Avallone's engaging debut novel explores the troubled friendship of two sexually precocious young girls, "thirteen going on fourteen," in the dead-end Italian town of Piombino, where the kids who don't escape often end up toiling at the local Lucchini steel plant. The author deftly captures the miserable home life of Francesca Morganti, the prettiest girl on the Via Stalingrado, whose father, Enrico, beats her and her defeated mother, Rosa. Francesca is in love with her best friend, Anna Sorrentino, who lives one floor up with her overprotective brother, Alessio; her Communist mother, Sandra; and her shady father, Arturo; who disappears for months at a time and returns with armfuls of gifts. Together, the girls dream of making it to Elba, the lush island just a short boat ride away from their constrictive coastal town. But a schism in their relationship is wrought by the arrival of Alessio's friend, Mattia, who's a good 10 years older than the girls and soon captures Anna's attention. Without Anna's friendship, Francesca withers under the rule of her abusive father, and begins to relinquish herself to a bleak future. Avallone does a good job of capturing the intensity of life-long female friendship and concomitant jealousies. Misfortunes pile up in the wake of the girls' absence from one another's lives, and while the central problem is eventually resolved, a handful of lesser plotlines are left dangling. (June)
Booklist
“Readers will devour this richly detailed, sensual bildungsroman.”
Caterina Soffici
International praise:
“Powerful. As trenchant as it is true.”
Le Parisien

“A galvanizing social novel, spacious and strenuous, like a film that would have been cosigned by Ken Loach and Gus Van Sant.”
Libération

“Characters unlike any you’ll find in Italian literature nowadays.”
Goffredo Fofi

“A book that skims close to the realm of the epic in its description of the desperate and empty lust for life of a tribe of young people and the small and vast tragedies that emerge from their struggles.”
—Giorgio De Rienzo, Corriere delle Sera

“A novel capable of holding together—in the drift or in the tragedy of many lives—the thread of a hope that springs from two young lives that may be destined to fit together.”
—Giovanni Tesio, Tuttolibri—La Stampa

“Silvia Avallone has a gift for painting a believable picture of not only her two leading characters, but of a crowd of actors: grief-stricken women, lazy factory workers, brutish thugs who frequent lap-dancing bars, young girls and boys who want to make the world their own. . . . Something verging on the operatic elegantly fills the pages of this remarkable novel.”
—Giovanni Pacchiano, Il Sole 24 Ore

“With Silvia Avallone, we are in the presence of a natural, original, and untutored talent, capable of capturing the contradictions of her own time in a rebellious, heartbreaking way. But the greatness of [Swimming to Elba], at once carnal and chaste [...] lies in the powerful way that it identifies beauty and friendship as the two decisive, all-encompassing emotions of adolescence. It is a book that demands love, in its truthfulness, in its refusal to turn away from the life-giving breath of poetry.”
—Giuseppe Conte, Il Giornale

“Avallone skillfully tugs every thread in her tapestry with an artist’s hand. . . . This Avallone is a force of nature, with her exacting, precise prose, as in the spectacular opening passages.”
—Massimo Onofri, Avvenire

“Following in the footsteps of the great tradition of a Tuscan and European author like Romano Bilenchi.”
—Davide Barili, Gazzetta di Parma

Swimming to Elba is intelligent and well written. It deserves its success: Silvia Avallone gives us a penetrating vision of the way the new proletariat lives. She narrates that story very well. I was reminded of Tuscan authors such as Carlo Cassola and Vasco Pratolini. She is a modern writer, but you can sense those roots.”
—Dacia Maraini, Oggi

“From this first novel, [Silvia Avallone] might one day write a novel that is to literature what Bernardo Bertolucci’s Novecento was for film.”
—Gianfranco Franchi, Secolo d’Italia

“A masterpiece of fine writing, literature in its purest state, as if the words had flowed like molten steel out of the blast furnace, to recount perfect characters and a magnificent story.”

Kirkus Reviews
Who can help two young women escape the gravitational pull of their hometown? Can they rely on each other, or will they have to separate and trust others? Avallone's debut novel tells an uneasy coming-of-age story. On the cusp of 14, on the cusp of young womanhood, best friends Anna and Francesca delight in their changing bodies. And so do all the men in town. Whether flaunting their assets in bikinis, sneaking into cabanas with boys, or performing a daily morning striptease, the girls revel in drawing as much attention to themselves as possible. Indeed, Avallone's imagery incessantly sexualizes everything from the girls' bodies to the machinery of the steel mills. Yet, as Francesca's father and Anna's older brother worry about the girls' provocative behavior, they also struggle against economic disparity. Their own crowded shores of Piombino are littered with trash and drugs, while opposite, the pristinely white beaches of Elba beckon. Anna and Francesca will soon have to choose: work in the steel mills, marry a steel worker, or somehow escape to Elba. Staying in Piombino holds little attraction, particularly given the models of their own parents' marriages: Francesca's father is an abusive drunkard while Anna's is a con artist, yet neither mother seems able to leave. Soon a complex constellation of adolescent pressures pushes the girls apart. Anna explores a relationship with her older brother's friend, Mattia. Francesca becomes drawn into the vortex of the darker underbelly of Piombina, including fake girlfriends, lascivious older men and degrading behavior. A chance meeting on Corso Italia, however, forces the girls to realize that they belong together. Yet how can they shed the false friends, bad influences and familial troubles? How can they find their way back to each other and the dreams they shared at the beginning of the summer? A beach read for strong-willed, independent souls.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143123651
  • Publisher: Viking Penguin
  • Publication date: 4/30/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Silvia Avallone is a poet and novelist who was born in Biella, Italy, in 1984 and now lives in Bologna. Swimming to Elba, published in Italy as Acciaio, is her first novel.

Antony Shugaar’s recent translations include A Pimp’s Notes by Giorgio Faletti, Bandit Love by Massimo Carlotto, and Sandokan by Nanni Balestini. He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 23, 2013

    Original, tear-jerking and inspiring, Swimming to Elba follows t

    Original, tear-jerking and inspiring, Swimming to Elba follows two young girls as they come-of-age in a rural Italian village. However, the book doesn't only focus on the two girls but also on the adults, who aren't much smarter than the girls, and also gives the view that this sad little village is actually a living breathing being. All in all I highly enjoyed this book regardless of how often it had me in tears.   

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 23, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and h

    I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  

    I wanted to like Swimming to Elba by Silvia Avallone soooo badly.

    But I know very clearly why I dislike it.  It wasn't for me.  Let me explain.

    Anna and Francesca are the best of friends.  They live in a poor town in Italy, but they are everything anyone would ever want: beautiful, sexy, popular. . . and they throw it in everyone's faces.  They also are 13 years old.

    As they enter high school and learn more about themselves their friendship changes.

    I love the aspects of friendship and change, even the snottiness with the popularity.

    But I couldn't stand all the sexuality.  They are YOUNG teens!  I know it happens, but I don't want to read about it.  And the drugs. . . all over the place in their town.  It was just a little too dark at too young of an age for my liking.

    Maybe you'll feel differently.

    Thanks for reading,

    Rebecca @ Love at First Book

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)