I would have loved to have been able to read this in the original Italian, but as I can’t I have to celebrate Ann Goldstein’s translation which is beautifully delicate, just like the material it describes. I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but just as a silkworm spins its thread, this book spins the tale of French silkworm merchant Herve Joncour’s obsession for a Japanese concubine.
This is definitely a book where ‘less is more’, the chapters are extremely brief, the longest runs to four pages the shortest is just two lines and, like a poem, every word, every chapter break has been carefully considered. Its been made into a film, but, like Brokeback Mountain, the prose is so evocative that I find it hard to believe that any film adaptation can capture the essence of this book, without giving way to mawkish sentimentality, so its not a film I will be rushing to see.
I’ve got another of Alessandro Baricco’s books, An Iliad, lurking in my tbr pile and I am so pleased, as if its half as good as this I am in for a treat.