The Girl at the Doorby Veronica Raimo Translated from Italian by Stash Luczkiw
Called “the first post-Weinstein novel” by Vanity Fair Italy, The Girl at the Door is a riveting story of lust, power, and betrayal
While on vacation on an idyllic island called Miden, a seemingly aimless woman meets an attractive man and leaves her country to be with him. A few months later, newly pregnant and just beginning to feel comfortable in her lover’s space, her life is upended when a girl arrives at the door.
Slight and pretty, the girl discloses a drawn out and violent affair she’s had with her professor, the father of the woman’s unborn child. In alternating perspectives, the professor and his girlfriend reflect upon their lives, each other, and their interloper. As the community gathers testimony and considers the case, the couple is forced to confront their own paranoia, fetishes, and transgressions in light of the student’s accusations.
Provocative and unnerving, The Girl at the Door explores the bureaucracy of a scandal, and the thin line between lust and possession. In an age in which blunt power and fickle nuance take turns upon the stage, Raimo has delivered an intoxicating exploration of the politics and power of sex.
“Tight and provocative.”—Salon
“File it on the shelf with other recent masterpieces of the #MeToo era, from Sofka Zinovieff’s Putney to Sally Rooney’s Normal People. Raimo’s slim and uncomfortable novel is the opposite of a straightforward polemic… But The Girl at the Door earns its moral complexity and its refusals.”—Observer
“With questions of accusation, consent, and prevarication at its center, this unsettling novel, in turns elegant and crude, could not be more timely. Raimo not only deconstructs and upends the narrative, but also explores eternal themes of exile, identity, and belonging. An heir to Atwood and Coetzee, she is one of the most original and exciting writers in Italy today.”—Jhumpa Lahiri
“This uncompromising, fiercely intelligent novel confirms the moral usefulness of serious art: it reminds us that the world is more complicated than our righteous certainties; it forces us to acknowledge the abyss.”—Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You
“An astonishing novel that examines moral anguish from original and captivating angles, full of quotable lines and startling insights into conscience and the urge to judge. The novel explores the limits of intimacy, physical and emotional, and is as gripping as anything I’ve read this year. Sexy, dangerous, modern — what’s not to love?”—Richard Beard, author of The Day That Went Missing
“[A] fanged, elliptical tale… The novel deals in shifting sentiments: between love, revulsion, and desire… A writer of wry and lucid prose, Raimo sculpts from these ambiguities a crystalline, powerful novel.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Perfection is not such a beautiful place when you look at it too closely, and Veronica Raimo here enlightens its depths with elegant, mesmerizing and merciless writing.”—La Repubblica
“[The Girl at the Door] talks about harassment, consensus, populism and vigilantism, but also about what we feel when our actions are analyzed from outside and we become characters in someone else’s narrative.”—Forbes Italia
“Raimo’s novel will enrich the debate on the most current contemporary issues and at the same time belongs to the international literary scene that today can talk about emotions, individuals and sex in the most interesting and stylistically innovative way: from Catherine Lacey to Sally Rooney.”—Vice Italy
“[The Girl at the Door] is catching and convincing. Veronica Raimo is probably the most emblematic interpreter of fiction exploring the reality of sexual harassment.”—L’Espresso
“A surprising novel, as surprising is the setting where it takes place… A novel with an international appeal, we would just love to read more books like this.”—Rolling Stone Italy
“In this mysterious and seductive novel, Raimo bravely gives no answers… [The Girl at the Door] is a novel about doubt: its fascination and its fear.”—La Stampa
“A world which reminds one of Disgrace by Coetzee, but here it’s a woman and her anguish at the core of everything. All our certainties collapse, and so collapses the idea we have of ourselves.”—Corriere della sera
I was in my sixth month when the girl came knocking.
I’d gotten used to visits at home, almost as if I were sick. In a certain sense I was, a languid infirmity that had me spending the days doing nothing. The doctors prescribed a lot of rest. The challenge was to find new ways of resting.
It was always the others who were coming to me. I’d learned how to re-ceive them. People passed by to ask me how I was, give me advice and bring me books on motherhood with covers so ugly I didn’t know where to hide them. If they didn’t bring me books, then they came with something to eat. At times it was something potentially toxic, so along with their kindness came a heartfelt self-reproach: “How stupid of me! Tiramsu… raw eggs! How could I not have thought about it!”
The girl came empty handed. On the threshold, her hair down, her jeans tight, just the way I used to wear before the visitors came to replenish my stock of maternity pants. I was constantly hiding stuff those days.
“Are you the professor’s wife?” the girl asked me.
“Girlfriend, um… partner,” I specified, even though it embarrassed me to use that term. It felt like I was putting on airs.
“I have to speak to you,” she said.