“Superb...The beauty of Aciman's writing and the purity of his passions should place this extraordinary first novel within the canon of great romantic love stories for everyone.”Charles Kaiser, The Washington Post Book World
“An extraordinary examination of longing and the complicated ways in which we negotiate the experience of attraction....It's startling that a novel so bracingly unsentimentalalert to the ways we manipulate, second-guess, forestall, and finally reach stumblingly toward one anotherconcludes with such emotional depths.”Mark Doty, O, The Oprah Magazine
“This novel is hot...a love letter, an invocation, and something of an epitaph....An exceptionally beautiful book.”Stacey D'Erasmo, The New York Times Book Review
“If you are prepared to take a hard punch in your gut, and like brave, acute, elated, naked, brutal, tender, humane, and beautiful prose, then you've come to the right place.”Nicole Krauss, author of The History of Love
“A great love story...every phrase, every ache, every giddy rush of sensation in this beautiful novel rings true.”Michael Upchurch, The Seattle Times
“The novel is richly, sensuously detailed...luminous....Aciman deftly charts a burgeoning relationship that both parties want and fear.”Karen Campbell, The Boston Globe
Aciman’s first novel shows him to be an acute grammarian of desire. When Oliver, a handsome young American philosopher, arrives in a seaside town in Italy to work on a book about Heraclitus, as the guest of an Italian professor, the son of the house, Elio—seventeen, studious, moody, and ravenous—falls for him. Elio’s edgy rapture as he forms himself in relation to another plays out against the background of a scorching Mediterranean summer, and Aciman introduces a small universe of characters who are themselves altered by the charged air that surrounds the lovers: Elio’s mother, who calls Oliver il cauboi (the cowboy); his generous, hazy father; and the household’s cantankerous cook, who every morning carefully cracks open the American’s soft-boiled eggs.
The beauty of Aciman's writing and the purity of his passions should place this extraordinary first novel within the canon of great romantic love stories for everyone.
The Washington Post
… what André Aciman considers, elegantly and with no small amount of unbridled skin-to-skin contact, is that maybe the heat of eros isn’t only in the friction of memory and anticipation. Maybe it’s also in the getting. In a first novel that abounds in moments of emotional and physical abandon, this may be the most wanton of his moves: his narrative, brazenly, refuses to stay closed. It is as much a story of paradise found as it is of paradise lost.
The New York Times
Egyptian-born Aciman is the author of the acclaimed memoir Out of Egypt and of the essay collection False Papers. His first novel poignantly probes a boy's erotic coming-of-age at his family's Italian Mediterranean home. Elio 17, extremely well-read, sensitive and the son of a prominent expatriate professor finds himself troublingly attracted to this year's visiting resident scholar, recruited by his father from an American university. Oliver is 24, breezy and spontaneous, and at work on a book about Heraclitus. The young men loll about in bathing suits, play tennis, jog along the Italian Riviera and flirt. Both also flirt (and more) with women among their circle of friends, but Elio, who narrates, yearns for Oliver. Their shared literary interests and Jewishness help impart a sense of intimacy, and when they do consummate their passion in Oliver's room, they call each other by the other's name. A trip to Rome, sanctioned by Elio's prescient father, ushers Elio fully into first love's joy and pain, and his travails set up a well-managed look into Elio's future. Aciman overcomes an occasionally awkward structure with elegant writing in Elio's sweet and sanguine voice. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
As this novel opens, 17-year-old Elio is embarking on another relaxed summer of fun and sunshine with his family at their Italian villa by the sea. Each summer, Elio's professor father invites a different guest to stay with them, giving young scholars time to work on their writing and converse with the stream of intellectuals who congregate at the villa. What transpires when Oliver arrives is an unexpected and agonizing flirtation and affair, with great highs and lows. Elio's and Oliver's interactions range from frosty to torrid as they face uncertainty about their own identities, come to terms with their feelings for each other, and, ultimately, decide to take a risk on this relationship. In his first work of fiction, Aciman (Out of Egypt) describes Elio's anxiety, uncertainty, awkwardness, and, later, passion in incredibly vivid detail, leaving no thought process unexplored. The strong bond between the two characters is reminiscent of the bond between Ennis and Jack in Brokeback Mountain, where each finds in the other the one true love of his life. Recommended for larger public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/06.]-Sarah Conrad Weisman, Corning Community Coll., NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Seventeen-year-old Elio faces yet another lazy summer at his parents' home on the Italian coast. As in years past, his family will host a young scholar for six weeks, someone to help Elio's father with his research. Oliver, the handsome American visitor, charms everyone he meets with his cavalier manner. Elio's narrative dwells on the minutiae of his meandering thoughts and growing desire for Oliver. What begins as a casual friendship develops into a passionate yet clandestine affair, and the last chapters fast-forward through Elio's life to a reunion with Oliver decades later. Elio recalls the events of that summer and the years that follow in a voice that is by turns impatient and tender. He expresses his feelings with utter candor, sharing with readers his most private hopes, urges, and insecurities. The intimacy Elio experiences with Oliver is unparalleled and awakens in the protagonist an intensity that dances on the brink of obsession. Although their contact in the ensuing years is limited to the occasional phone call or postcard, Elio continues to harbor an insatiable desire for Oliver. His longing creates a tension that is present from the first sentence to the last.
Heidi DolamoreCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Graceful debut novel by memoirist/literary scholar Aciman (False Papers, 2000, etc.), joining young love to his familiar themes of dislocation and wandering. One could be arrested in certain parts of the world for the young love in question, which joins a 17-year-old bookish musician who is improbably well educated-not many college-educated adults have read Celan, heard of Athanasius Kircher or have a context for the Latin cor cordium-with a 24-year-old scholar with one foot in the world of the classical Greeks and another in whatever demimondes an Italian seaside village can offer. Oliver has cruelly good looks and looks cruelly at the world, a "cold, sagacious judge of character and situations." Slathered in suntan oil, bronzing in the Mediterranean sun, he sends young Elio into a swoon at first sight. Oliver is well aware of the effect, for everyone, male and female, falls in love with him: Elio's professor father, whose houseguest Oliver is, has appreciation for the younger man's fearlessness in arguing over philosophy and etymology, the young village girls for his muvi star affectations, older women for his cowboy manners. Possibilities worthy of Highsmith loom, but though Oliver has his dangerous side (for one thing, he's a cardsharp), Aciman never quite dispenses with innocence; Elio's love has a certain chaste quality to it ("I was Glaucus and he was Diomedes"), which doesn't lessen the hurt when the whole thing unravels, at which point intellectual gamesmanship fades away and the wisest man in the book is revealed to be Elio's gently thoughtful father, who has unsuspected depths and offers consolation as best he can: "Right now there's sorrow. I don't envy you the pain. But Ienvy you the pain." That pain yields a happy ending, of a sort. With shades of Marguerite Duras and Patrick White, a quiet, literate and impeccably written love story.