The Performance by Claudia Petrucci (Translated from Italian by Anne Milano Appel) - review by Jay Gilbert

Jay Gilbert

Cast Masters

The Performance


World Editions 320pp £13.99

Claudia Petrucci’s captivating debut novel not only rewards but demands rereading – fittingly so, given that repetition, redefinition and the retracing of steps are among its preoccupations. In the opening section, the narrative perspective is intriguingly baffling: writing in the first person, the narrator, Filippo, seems to know what his girlfriend, Giorgia, is doing, thinking and feeling, whether he is privy to it or not. Giorgia, Filippo says, is ‘unable to remember what she felt only three years earlier when, without me, everything was different’. Upon first reading, this seems curious; upon rereading, it comes across as dazzlingly sinister.

Performance is the story of a girl whose attempts to redefine herself and her past push her to a mental breaking point, after which the two men in her life, Filippo and Mauro, decide to reinvent her to their own specifications. An actress, Giorgia has always overidentified with the

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