The transgression that sets Ties in motion is not new: a married man named Aldo falls in love with a much younger woman named Lidia, leaving his wife, Vanda, heartbroken and vengeful. Two children suffer as the marriage falters, breaks, and stutters reluctantly back together–Aldo’s betrayal buried but never forgotten. The marriage, far from healed, is brittle, distant, and rancorous, leaving parents and children scarred forever. Still, time passes, and the children grow, the effects of their broken home life stark and serious. When Aldo and Vanda’s apartment is ransacked, the past roils, and Aldo faces renewed pain over the hurt he’s caused and over the hope and optimism he’s lost. Vanda’s beloved cat goes missing, and this is the least of the things this family will search for and never find.
This Italian novel, translated by Jhumpa Lahiri, probes the painful fissures of a patched-together marriage and paints a dire portrait of a man and woman struggling to define themselves and each other within a union that diminishes them both. Lahiri’s introduction beautifully examines Starnone’s insights and themes, offering readers who are unfamiliar with his other works a welcoming portal into his troubling story.
Domenico Starnone, trans. by Jhumpa Lahiri