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The Italian Teacher (Hardcover)

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Rome 1955. Five-year-old Pinch awaits the arrival of his father, the larger-than-life Expressionist painter, Bear Bavinsky. Bear, it turns out, is a self-involved, flamboyant narcissist who thinks nothing of swooping into the lives of his son, Pinch, and his third wife, Natalie, only to leave them for other wives (six) and children (seventeen) over the course of fifty years. Regardless, Bear makes such an outsized impression on young Pinch, that the boy spends the rest of his life seeking Bear’s adoration and his acceptance of Pinch as an equal.

Told from Pinch’s point of view, The Italian Teacher is a tender and astute view of a toxic father-son relationship, and an insightful and wry look into the rarefied “Art” world, from high society gallery openings to pretentious reviews of works of questionable merit. Primarily, though, it is an endearing portrait of a man who grows up lacking confidence in his own talent and self-worth just because his father never acknowledged either. Bear’s only meaningful interactions with Pinch late in life revolve around making sure Pinch keeps Bear’s art in the spotlight. Pinch struggles to form close relationships, gives up on his desire to be a painter and finally ends up in a London language school as an Italian teacher. A very clever twist ending not only secures Bear’s legacy of greatness, but also gives Pinch a wonderful redemption of his own. Another enthralling novel by the author of The Imperfectionists

— Robin Harvey

April 2018 Indie Next List

“The same kinds of beautifully drawn, charming-but-flawed characters that made The Imperfectionists so wonderful also fill this novel, which follows Pinch (aka Charles), the son of famed painter Bear Bavinsky, as he grows up and struggles to make a name for himself. The book begins with Pinch and his mother, a failed potter, living in Rome in the 1950s in the shadow of Bear's celebrity and forceful personality. With evocative descriptions of the various cities in which it's set, The Italian Teacher is perfect for readers who want to be drawn into the lives of vivid characters and explore the meaning of art, family, and one's personal legacy.”
— Laura Tischler, Solid State Books, Washington, DC


"An exotic touch of intrigue arises in THE ITALIAN TEACHER . . . deliciously ironic and deeply affectionate."--Ron Charles, The Washington Post

A masterful novel about the son of a great painter striving to create his own legacy, by the bestselling author of The Imperfectionists.

Conceived while his father, Bear, cavorted around Rome in the 1950s, Pinch learns quickly that Bear's genius trumps all. After Bear abandons his family, Pinch strives to make himself worthy of his father's attention--first trying to be a painter himself; then resolving to write his father's biography; eventually settling, disillusioned, into a job as an Italian teacher in London. But when Bear dies, Pinch hatches a scheme to secure his father's legacy--and make his own mark on the world.

With his signature humanity and humor, Tom Rachman examines a life lived in the shadow of greatness, cementing his place among his generation's most exciting literary voices.

About the Author

Tom Rachman is the author of two novels, The Rise & Fall of Great Powers (2014), and The Imperfectionists (2010), an international bestseller that has been translated into 25 languages. Rachman, who was born in London in 1974 and raised in Vancouver, studied journalism at Columbia University in New York. In 1998, he joined the Associated Press as a foreign-desk editor in New York, then became a correspondent in Rome in 2002. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Slate and The New Statesman, among other publications. He lives in London.

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9780735222694
ISBN-10: 073522269X
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: March 20th, 2018
Pages: 352
Language: English

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