I’ve never done this, I remember her saying. I’ve never been with a girl before. A woman.
A sweltering summer in suburban Naples. With her Romanian mother shunned into reclusion by an intolerant community, and her father and brother at work, the quiet Mădălina has enough time on her hands to realise she’s different. While her friends gather in the park to gawp at shirtless boys playing football, she finds herself irresistibly drawn instead to her classmate Clelia. It’s an attraction that will tear through her family and her relationships for years to come.
A cold year in Edinburgh; a young graduate translator falls in love with the brilliant and impulsive but lost Alina. First they bond over scrawled notes in each other’s margins, over Regina Spektor songs, over the mishmash of Italian and English they can speak. Yet closer they get, the harder Alina pulls away; what is buried in her past that’s so hard to share?
The translator won’t find any answers until the following summer. In a disused prison in Berlin, she immerses herself in the experimental poems of a mysterious Italian writer. Are there echoes of Alina’s childhood in these words? Can she really get close to their author by translating them? Or does language make these three women’s experiences an inescapable cell?
Written in stark but tender prose, Periferia is an impressionistic portrait of the lives of three queer women; of their longing and belonging, of the shame and prejudice they face. Perfect for fans of Eley Williams and Ocean Vuong.