Swimming to Elba by Silvia Avallone
A Novel

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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.


About Silvia Avallone

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SILVIA AVALLONE is an Italian poet and novelist. This first novel—published in Italy as Acciaio —won second place in the 2010 Premio Strega and rights have been sold in fourteen countries. She is lives in Italy.ANTONY SHUGAAR'S recent translations include A Pimp's Notes by Giorgio Faletti, The Nun by Simonetta Agnello Hornby, Bandit Love by Massimo Carlotto, and Sandokan by Nanni Balestrini, for which he received an NEA translation fellowship. He lives with his family in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Published June 14, 2012 by Penguin Books. 320 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Swimming to Elba

Kirkus Reviews

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Anna and Francesca will soon have to choose: work in the steel mills, marry a steel worker, or somehow escape to Elba.

May 29 2012 | Read Full Review of Swimming to Elba: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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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.

Jul 02 2012 | Read Full Review of Swimming to Elba: A Novel

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