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‘One of the most beautiful books published in recent years: an intense, poignant story’ Caterina Bonvicini

Can a prison free those who enter?

Nisida, moored like a boat in the Mediterranean, is a small island nestled between Capri and Bagnoli, off the coast of Naples. Each day, through the early morning light, Elisabetta Maiorano travels across the city, passes by the guards on the way into the detention centre, hands over her bag and arrives at her classroom. All thoughts are suspended once inside. Usually Elisabetta hasn’t spoken to anyone since the day before; her only reason for living to teach mathematics to the group of young inmates who arrive not long after she does. But one day, Almarina shows up and everything changes. She is Romanian and bears the signs of her personal history on her body. Together, closed up in a small classroom, a true island within an island, Elisabetta and Almarina discover a possible pathway to freedom.

Warm and intimate, intense and political, Valeria Parrella touches our emotions, giving voice to a loneliness that is universal. Almarina is about finding love in unexpected places, about atonement, forgetting and starting over. But mostly it is about two women learning how to live again.

Translated by Alex Valente

Reviews

One of the most beautiful books published in recent years: an intense, poignant story
Caterina Bonvicini