Nominated by:

Stavanger Bibliotek, Norway

Publisher of nominated edition:

Viking, UK

Swimming to Elba

Silvia Avallone      

Translated from the original Italian by Antony Shugaar

2014 Longlist

A sensually charged novel about two girls growing up fast in a failing industrial town on the coast of Italy

Anna and Francesca are on the brink of everything: high school, adulthood, and the edge of ambition in their provincial town. It’s summer in Piombino, Italy, and in their skimpy bathing suits, flaunting their newly acquired curves, the girls suddenly have everyone in their thrall. This power opens their imagination to a destiny beyond Piombino; the resort town of Elba is just a ferry ride away and yet they’ve never dared to go. Maybe the future is waiting for them there, or somewhere beyond.

When their friendship suffers a blow, the girls set off on their own only to discover that their budding sexuality takes them further than they expect, though not as far as their dreams. As their choices take them to a painful crossroads, the girls must reconnect if they have any hope of escaping their small town destinies.

In this poetic, prizewinning debut, Silvia Avallone captures the lost innocence of a generation. Harrowing yet ultimately redemptive, Swimming to Elba is a story about the power of friendship, and the way that family, friendship, and economics shape our world.

(From Publisher)

About the Author

Silvia Avallone is a published poet who was born in Biella, Italy, in 1984 and now lives in Bologna. This first novel – published in Italy as Acciaio – won second place in the 2010 Strega Prize competition, was a #1 bestseller in Italy, and rights have been sold in twenty languages.

Librarian’s Comments

A fantastic novel about growing sexuality in a man’s world. A dark story from an Italy of today. The two young protagonists are beautifully and believably described in a friendship.

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