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Rachman, T: The Italian Teacher

A Novel

Tom Rachman

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"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.

Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2018 by The Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post,, Instyle, Poets and Writers, Southern Living, Seattle Times, Chicago Review of Books, Newsday, The Boston Herald, and more

"Rachman is a brilliant choreographer of skewed desires . . . He has a deft way of describing atrocious behavior without damning his characters, without suggestions that they're entirely circumscribed by their worst acts. His comedy is tempered by a kind of a gentleness that's a salve in these mean times . . . An exotic touch of intrigue arises in THE ITALIAN TEACHER . . . Rachman brings his own, warmer touch to the crime, transforming it into a surprising act of defiance that's both deliciously ironic and deeply affectionate."-Ron Charles, The Washington Post

"Engaging and subtle . . . Rachman appears in perfect control of his material . . . engrossing, by turns gently humorous . . . The Italian Teacher is a psychologically nuanced pleasure." - New York Times Book Review

"A poignant, touching tale about living in the shadow of a brazen artistic genius. . . Unforgettable." -USA Today

"Masterfully illustrates how malicious a father-son rivalry can be." - People

"The reliably excellent Rachman this time offers a nuanced, fascinating portrait of a celebrated painter looking ahead to his legacy." - Entertainment Weekly

"Pencils down, brushes up: Rachman goes beyond the base coat with THE ITALIAN TEACHER, a portrait of a son his large-scale father." - Vanity Fair

"In The Italian Teacher, Rachman manages to conjure a fresh perspective on fame and its destructive effects on the people ensnared by it. Instead of running toward celebrity, readers may find themselves instead turning around and running away." - Chicago Tribune

"Rachman wrestles with age-old questions: What is the purpose of art? How do we judge excellence? Does fame matter? . . . [THE ITALIAN TEACHER] moves with the energy and gusto of Bear. With Pinch/Charles, it broods and hopes and plumbs the depths. That's a lot to expect of any novel, yet THE ITALIAN TEACHER delivers in spades."-Dan Cryer, San Francisco Chronicle

"[THE ITALIAN TEACHER] takes satisfyingly unexpected turns, especially when the reader might expect a clichéd depiction of father-son strife. And Rachman offers a nuanced portrait of talented people whose lives don't work out the way they had hoped."-Newsday

"[An] artful page-turner." -Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"A momentous drama of a volatile relationship and the fundamental will to survive." -Booklist, starred review

"The Italian Teacher is a rich novel with a colorful cast of memorable characters." -Hello Giggles

"Along with the skewering of art-world and academic pretensions, there is humor, humanity, and compassion in Rachman's writing. For most fiction readers." -Library Journal

"The Italian Teacher is a marvel--an entertaining, heartbreaking novel about art, family, loyalty, and authenticity. Tom Rachman is an enormously talented writer--this book is alive, from the first page to the last." -Tom Perotta, bestselling author of The Leftovers

Praise for Tom Rachman:

"[Rachman] writes perfectly and with a warm, twinkling-eyed generosity toward human behavior that does not get in the way of his pitiless observation of it." - Lorrie Moore, The New Yorker

"[The Imperfectionists is] so good I had to read it twice simply to figure out how he pulled it off. I still haven't answered that question, nor do I know how someone so young could have acquired such a precocious grasp of human foibles. The novel is alternately hilarious and heart-wrenching, and it's assembled like a Rubik's Cube." --Christopher Buckley, The New York Times

"Mr. Rachman's transition from journalism to fiction writing is nothing short of spectacular. The Imperfectionists is a splendid original, filled with wit and structured so ingeniously that figuring out where the author is headed is half the reader's fun. The ot

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.


Einband Taschenbuch
Seitenzahl 352
Erscheinungsdatum 27.02.2018
Sprache Englisch
ISBN 978-0-525-55908-5
Verlag Penguin LCC US
Maße (L/B/H) 22.8/15.1/3.8 cm
Gewicht 365 g


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  • Rome, 1955


    Seated in a copper bathtub, Bear Bavinsky dunks his head under steaming water and shakes out his beard, flinging droplets across the art studio. He thumbs a bolt of shag into his pipe and flicks a brass Zippo lighter, sucking hard to draw down the flame, tobacco glowing devil-red, smoke coiling toward the wood-beam ceiling. He exhales and stands. Beads of water rain off his torso.

    His five-year-old son, Pinch, hoists a thick bath towel, arms trembling under the weight. Bear runs his fingers through receding reddish-blond hair and-hand on the boy's head for balance-steps onto newspapers previously used for wiping paintbrushes. His wet footprints bleed across the print, encircling dabs of oily blue and swipes of yellow.

    "That's final!" Natalie declares from across the studio, chewing her fingernail.

    "Final, is it? You certain?" Bear asks his wife. "Not the slightest doubt?"

    "All I've got is doubts."

    He proceeds to the iron front door and shoulders it open, dusky light from the alleyway pushing past him, glinting off glass pigment jars, illuminating abused paintbrushes in turpentine and canvases drying along the bare-brick walls. In the early-evening air, he stands in place, a fortyish male animal, naked but for the towel twisted around his neck, his shadow narrowing up the studio, hurdling the tub, darkening his wife and their little boy. "Absolutely positive then?"

    Natalie yanks a strand of black hair over her eyes, wraps it around her baby finger, whose tip reddens. She darts into the WC at the back of the studio and closes the warped door, her head bumping the bare bulb, which alternates glare and gloom as she consults the mirror: emerald ball gown cinched at the waist, box-pleated skirt, polka-dot overlay. It's as if she were wearing three outfits at once, none of them hers. She tucks her hair under a cream beret but it hardly helps, the same gawky twenty-six-year-old looking back, all elbows and knees, a manly jaw, deep- set black eyes, as uncertain as if drawn with smudged charcoal, the worry lines added in fine- nib pen.

    She joins Bear, who remains naked in the doorway, a puff of smoke released from his pipe. "I'm not even acceptable," she tells him, and he rests a rough palm against the swell of her bosom, firmly enough to quicken her pulse. He strides to his leather suitcase and plucks out neckties, one for himself, one for their son. Bear raises the louder tie, holding it up as if considering a mackerel. He sends Pinch to fetch the canvas shears, with which he snips one of the ties in half, twirling it around the boy's neck. "What do you say, kiddo?" Bear grins, the beard rising to his eyes, which disappear into slits. "Natty, I love the hell out of you. And I listen the hell out of you. But damn it, sweetie, we are going."

    She clutches one hand in the other. "Well then, hurry!" she responds, quickstepping past her husband, nearly stumbling as she crouches to knot their son's tie. Natalie touches Pinch's forehead, her hand throbbing against his brow, jittery fingers like a secret message: "We waited all this time, Pinchy, and now he's here!"

    Bear, who moved in only weeks earlier, approaches his son, mussing the boy's fine sandy hair (quite like Dad's), playfully flicking the kid's nervous chin (like his mother's), while Pinch's blue eyes (with an urgency all their own) gaze up, awaiting his father's command.