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Fiction Literary

The Italian Teacher

by (author) Tom Rachman

Doubleday Canada
Initial publish date
Mar 2019
Literary, Contemporary Women, Family Life
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2019
    List Price

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A sparkling, propulsive novel from the bestselling author of The Imperfectionists.

Conceived while his father, Bear, cavorted around Rome in the 1950s, Pinch learns quickly that Bear's genius trumps all. After Bear abandons his family, Pinch strives to make himself worthy of his father's attention--first trying to be a painter himself; then resolving to write his father's biography; eventually settling, disillusioned, into a job as an Italian teacher in London. But when Bear dies, Pinch hatches a scheme to secure his father's legacy--and make his own mark on the world.
With his signature humanity and humor, Tom Rachman examines a life lived in the shadow of greatness. The Italian Teacher cements his place among his generation's most exciting literary voices.

About the author


  • Short-listed, Costa Novel Award

Contributor Notes

TOM RACHMAN is the author of two novels, The Rise & Fall of Great Powers (2014) and The Imperfectionists (2010), an international bestseller that has been translated into twenty-five languages. Rachman, who was born in London in 1974 and raised in Vancouver, studied journalism at Columbia University in New York. In 1998, he joined The Associated Press as a foreign-desk editor in New York, then became a correspondent in Rome in 2002. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Slate and The New Statesman, among other publications. He lives in London.

Editorial Reviews

Shortlisted for the 2018 Costa Novel Award
A CBC Best Canadian Book of 2018
A USA Today Best Book of 2018
A Glamour Best Book of 2018

"Rachman is a brilliant choreographer of skewed desires . . . He has a deft way of describing atrocious behavior without damning his characters, without suggestions that they're entirely circumscribed by their worst acts. His comedy is tempered by a kind of a gentleness that's a salve in these mean times." —The Washington Post

"Rachman appears in perfect control of his material. This is not an aesthetic treatise but, first and foremost, a morality tale about fame and family, 'the long, loud effect of fathers.' . . . There are no black-and-white answers in life and art, not even in our present age of increasing personal responsibility. The Italian Teacher is a psychologically nuanced pleasure." —The New York Times

"The Italian Teacher finds a lovely and unexpected grace note, a left-field redemption made even sweeter by its long and winding path." —Entertainment Weekly

"Rachman's narrative is rich with wordplay, clever dialogue and subtle insights. His plot twists blindside you. And, his ensemble of lovable, misfit characters—from Pinch's true love in college, sassy Cilla Barrows, to his best friend, self-styled bohemian Marsden McClintock—are unforgettable. . . . The brilliant finale . . . will leave you surprised, sad and uplifted." —USA Today

"[An] artful page-turner. . . . A satisfying examination of authorship and authenticity, and a fine fictionalization of how crafting an identity independent of one's parents can be a lifelong, worthwhile project." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

"A momentous drama of a volatile relationship and the fundamental will to survive." —Booklist, starred review

"Readers may finish The Italian Teacher feeling wistful and nostalgic, a high mark for any book, and that is proof of Rachman's talent. . . . This book is a wonderful, heartbreaking read." —Shelf Awareness, starred review

"Rachman wrestles with age-old questions: What is the purpose of art? How do we judge excellence? Does fame matter? . . . That's a lot to expect of any novel, yet The Italian Teacher delivers in spades." —San Francisco Chronicle

"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. . . . The book is intimate, subtly exploring its characters' inner lives." —The Economist
"Poignant. . . . A sensitive look at complicated relationships that's especially notable for the fascinatingly conflicted protagonist." —Kirkus Reviews

"Rachman is a classically novelistic writer, his elements finely woven but on visible display. His command of characterization is impressive. . . . [The Italian Teacher] makes for brisk, pleasant reading . . . [and] is a polished, almost wistful expression of established form." —Quill & Quire
"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 Daily Telegraph (UK)

"Tom Rachman's fiction is a distinctive blend of narrative zest and emotional subtlety . . . [and his] new novel, The Italian Teacher, may well be his most impressive yet." —Financial Times (UK)
"Novels about second chances can be as cloying as they are reassuring, but Rachman avoids this by always returning to that wistful minor key, sensitizing us to loss yet surprising us with joy. Exploring the heart-rending rifts between life and art, Rachman gradually reveals the graceless beauty of one man’s most inartful life." —The Seattle Times
"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." —Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

"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." —Tom Perotta, bestselling author of The Leftovers

Other titles by Tom Rachman