Conceived while his larger-than-life father, Bear Bavinsky, cavorted around Rome in the 1950s, the young Pinch learns that his father’s genius trumps everything else. After Bear abandons his family, Pinch strives to make himself worthy—first as a painter, and then as his father’s biographer, before settling, disillusioned, into a job teaching Italian in London.
And when Bear dies, Pinch hatches a scheme to secure his father’s legacy.
What makes an artist? With his signature compassion and humour, Tom Rachman conjures a life lived in the shadow of greatness. The Italian Teacher is a masterly novel about a son striving to make his own mark on the world.
‘The Italian Teacher is a marvel—an entertaining, heartbreaking novel about art, family, loyalty and authenticity. Tom Rachman is an enormously talented writer—this book is alive, from the first page to the last.’
‘Rachman’s new novel, The Italian Teacher, is one to stir a normally austere reviewer to gush. Embarrassing. However, restraint and discipline are required to review this subtle, tender, profound, beautiful, funny, perfection of a book that kept me so absorbed, I read it in two (bed) sittings. Is that restrained enough?’
‘One of Mr Rachman’s gifts is his ability to evoke a time and place in a few deft strokes, whether that is the seedy charm of post-war Rome or the New York art scene of the late 1960s…For all his faults, Pinch is gifted with wisdom, as is the author of this sad, funny and moving novel.’
‘A poignant, touching tale about living in the shadow of brazen artistic genius … Reading Rachman is simply de rigueur if you appreciate literary fiction’s brightest, newest voices.’
‘Wickedly funny … and also deeply touching … I confess this was the first of Rachman’s novels I’d read but I was so swept away by it that I raced out to buy the other three.’
‘The Italian Teacher confirms Rachman’s reputation as a shepherd of lost souls. … His comedy is tempered by a kind of gentleness that’s a salve in these mean times.‘
‘Tom Rachman is a relentlessly entertaining writer, mixing high-wire ideas with effervescent prose.’
‘Tom Rachman’s fiction is a distinctive blend of narrative zest and emotional subtlety. … Rachman’s new novel, The Italian Teacher, may well be his most impressive yet.’
‘Rachman’s ensemble of art-world characters here is luminescent; their dialogue is intelligent and so entertaining. And while I had fears that I could see how everything would play out, Rachman manages a truly dazzling ending.’
‘Rachman wrestles with … age-old questions: What is the purpose of art? How do we judge excellence? Does fame matter?… The Italian Teacher delivers in spades.’
‘The Italian Teacher finds a lovely and unexpected grace note, a left-field redemption made even sweeter by its long and winding path.’
‘This rich novel is both an intriguing examination of authenticity in art and the moving story of misplaced filial love, with an immensely satisfying denouement.’
‘An artful page-turner…A fine fictionalization of how crafting an identity independent of one’s parents can be a lifelong, worthwhile project.’
‘A momentous drama of a volatile relationship and the fundamental will to survive.’
‘Rachman’s novel can be heart-wrenching…He subtly weaves a thread of hopefulness and discovery throughout a life.’
‘Engaging and subtle…The Italian Teacher is a psychologically nuanced pleasure.’
‘If there was ever an author who had the ability to paint a picture with his prose, it’s Tom Rachman. In his latest novel, The Italian Teacher, Rachman puts together a complex and often lyrical study of a man who has grown up in the shadows of his artist father’s genius. The result is a heart-wrenching examination of modern art and its true costs…It’s moving stuff.’
‘Wonderfully unpredictable…This darkly comic book morphs into a psychological thriller that sends up the arse-licking art world. More, please.’
‘This novel took me by complete surprise. A funny and painfully honest look at fame, family, and the male ego…Rachman’s unlikeable but fascinating characters kept me rapt until the last page.’
‘Rachman has terrific fun skewering the hyperbole and hypocrisies of the art world. While it is hardly virgin territory, he brings a shrewd eye and a knack for aphorism that lend his observations a satisfyingly sharp edge.’