The Costa Award-shortlisted novel about fathers and sons, art and the meaning of life free of legacy
***SHORTLISTED FOR THE COSTA NOVEL AWARD***
'Wickedly funny, deeply touching . . . I confess this was the first of Rachman's novels I'd read but I was so swept away by it that I raced out to buy the other three' PATRICK GALE
'Relentlessly entertaining' Daily Mail
The artists are gathering together for a photograph. In one of Rome's historic villas, a party glitters with socialites and patrons. Bear Bavinsky, creator of vast, masculine, meaty canvases, is their god. He is at the centre of the picture. His wife, Natalie, edges out of the shot.
From the side of the room watches little Pinch - their son. At five years old he loves Bear almost as much as he fears him. After Bear abandons their family, Pinch will still worship him, while Natalie faces her own wars with the art world. Trying to live up to his father's name - one of the twentieth century's fiercest and most controversial painters - Pinch never quite succeeds. Yet by the end of a career of twists and compromises, he enacts an unexpected rebellion that will leave forever his mark upon the Bear Bavinsky legacy.
What makes an artist? In The Italian Teacher, Tom Rachman displays a nuanced understanding of art and its demons. Moreover, in Pinch he achieves a portrait of vulnerability and frustrated talent that - with his signature humour and humanity - challenges the very idea of greatness.
Born in London and raised in Vancouver, Tom Rachman was a foreign correspondent for the Associated Press stationed in Rome, then an editor at the International Herald Tribune in Paris. He is the author of three novels, the international bestseller The Imperfectionists; The Rise and Fall of Great Powers and The Italian Teacher, as well as a short stories collection, Basket of Deplorables. He lives in London.
Often wickedly funny - Rachman has an eye for life's cruelty worth of Waugh - but it is also deeply touching in its tender portrayals of life's victims . . . I confess this was the first of Rachman's novels I'd read but I was so swept away by it that I raced out to buy the other three — Patrick Gale, Daily Telegraph
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
I loved it. A story of a globally famous overbearing father and how that affects the life of his son set against the backdrop of mid-20th century modern art. A beautiful little gem. — Rick O'Shea, RTE Radio
This rich novel is both an intriguing examination of the nature of authenticity in art and the moving story of misplaced filial love, with an immensely satisfying denouement — Simon Humphreys, Mail on Sunday
Tom Rachman is a relentlessly entertaining writer, mixing high-wire ideas with effervescent prose . . . Rachman asks interesting questions about the tension between legacy and self-determination. — Claire Allfree, Daily Mail
Tom Rachman's novel charts the wreckage left in the wake of greatness . . . Despite its breadth, though, the book is intimate, subtly exploring its characters' inner lives . . . [Pinch's] struggle to find meaning amid the rubble becomes a surprisingly suspenseful quest. For all his faults, Pinch is gifted with wisdom, as is the author of this sad, funny and moving novel — Economist
A poignant, touching tale about living in the shadow of brazen artistic genius. Otherwise, reading Rachman is simply de rigueur if you appreciate literary fiction's brightest, newest voices . . . Rachman writes compelling stories of the entangled lives of damaged, endearing characters and their struggles to discover who they are . . . Rachman's narrative is rich with wordplay, clever dialogue and subtle insights. His plot twists blindside you . . . The brilliant finale will leave you surprised, sad and uplifted. — Don Oldenburg, USA Today
The Italian Teacher confirms Rachman's reputation as a shepherd of lost souls . . . In the trompe l'oeil of Rachman's satire, the pretensions of the art world seem to reach off the page . . . deliciously ironic and deeply affectionate — Ron Charles, Wall Street Journal
Rachman's new novel may well be his most impressive yet . . . spirited writing . . . In the end, this deceptively subtle novel offers a surprisingly upbeat message: that even a life marked by outward failure can contain many hidden kinds of success — Financial Times
Subtle, tender, profound, beautiful, funny, perfection of a book . . . Rachman, like Saul Bellow, has a gift of instant emotional connectivity, one related to but greater than empathy. We want to know every detail about the people in his novels. And we want to know them, take them into our lives, because they are people, not characters . . . Stay in bed for a day and read Tom Rachman. — Helen Elliot, Australian
Compelling . . . His eye for the absurdities of the art world is cutting and funny — Mika Ross-Southall, Times Literary Supplement