Last Summer in the City is the first book I read by Italian author Gianfranco Calligarich, and the author has found his rightful place among the authors that I will read whatever he writes from now on. Recently, I have read many books in a row that unfortunately disappointed me. While I thought that I would probably end 2021 with books I didn’t like, Last Summer in the City came to my rescue. Reading the first pages of Last Summer in the City felt like seeing the sun and the sea at the same time after walking in the rain in the ordinary streets of an ordinary city.
Last Summer in the City tells the story of Leo Gazzara. I fell in love with Leo as soon as I got to know him because Leo is a terrific character who has lived through what we’ve all been through at some point in time. Although he allows life to drag him, he manages to not compromise on himself. He falls in love, gets drunk, finds friends, loses them, and admits he can’t be one of them even though he misses his family. He doesn’t live to work; on the contrary, he works to live; he reads, writes, swims, hopes, gives up.
Leo is living to the fullest and enjoying Rome. As a reader, I wanted to be dragged after Leo and fall in love with him despite everything, and I guess I did a little.
Last Summer in the City is one of those books that will awe you with its author Gianfranco Calligarich’s delightful observations that he occasionally throws in front of you. I admired everything he created in this book, from the characters to the Rome he shared. However, I think I was most attracted to his narration; simple and yet so powerful. Also, Howard Curtis’ translation was so good that I have added other books he translated to my reading list.
Last Summer in the City was one of the few books I wanted to read again as soon as I finished it. I couldn’t help but think how great it would be if this beautiful book had a film. I recommend it to everyone, especially those who are interested in Italian literature. Enjoy!
Last Summer in the City
A cult classic of Italian literature published in English for the first time, with a foreword by André Aciman, author of Call Me By Your Name
In the late 1960s, Leo Gazzara left his family in Milan and moved to Rome for work. Soon unemployed, he has spent his time in an alcoholic haze, bouncing between hotels, bars, romantic entanglements, and the homes of his rich and well-educated friends. Rome is indifferent. Leo drifts, aimless and alone.
On the evening of his thirtieth birthday, he meets Arianna, a young woman who is both fragile and seductive. All night they drive the city in Leo’s run-down Alfa Romeo, talking and talking. They eat brioche for breakfast, drink through the dawn, drive to the sea and back. A whirlwind beginning. This is the story of the year Leo fell in love and lost everything.
Intense, brief, witty and devastating, Last Summer in the City is a newly rediscovered classic of Italian literature. Translated into English for the first time by Howard Curtis, Gianfranco Calligarich’s romantic and despairing debut is reminiscent of The Great Gatsby, The Sun Also Rises and The Catcher in the Rye.
Gianfranco Calligarich was born in Asmara, Eritrea, and grew up in Milan, then moved to Rome, where he worked as a journalist and screenwriter. He wrote many successful TV shows for Rai, the national public broadcasting company of Italy, and founded the Teatro XX Secolo in 1994. He is the author of many novels, including La malinconia dei Crusich, which won the Viareggio-Rèpaci Prize. Last Summer in the City is the first of his novels to be translated into English.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: