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Sandro Veronesi: Gli sfiorati [The Detached]

The first part of the novel is the relatively straightforward story of Mète, a Roman of the 1990s, who lives an easy bachelor life. His main interest is graphology and, apart from that, much of his life is relatively mundane. He wanders around Rome, often at night, he is concerned about his father’s remarriage, he has a Filipino house-servant and becomes marginally involved in the Filipino sub-culture found in Rome, his phone keeps getting interference from Radio Vatican and so on. All is told in a lively, pulsating style and we soon become attached to Mète and his mildly eccentric ways. But all is to change.

His father and his new wife are off to America for their honeymoon and Mète is asked to look after the seventeen-year old Belinda, his new stepmother’s daughter. His bachelor existence in his tidy Roman flat is shattered as the typical teenager Belinda moves in. It is not that she is bad but she does like to talk on the phone and leave her clothes (and other things, including her Tampax) scattered all over the floor and she does go out with strange boys. However, not only does Mète not react negatively to this but he gets caught up in it. Belinda introduces him to marijuana and he smokes it with her. He goes out with her and her boyfriend to their type of club. In short, his life changes. Belinda is fleeting. He can never quite catch up with her or her life. It is further complicated by his obvious repressed sexual attraction towards her. Of course, with all such novels, there is a bit of a reality check, she moves on and remembers him with fondness while he has lived and learned. But a very enjoyable novel nonetheless.

Publishing history

First published 1990 by Mondadori
No English translation