Shortlisted: Best Novel of the Year
The Costa Judges: ‘A hugely pleasurable story, fizzing with energy.’
The Italian Teacher is often wickedly funny - Rachman has an eye for life's cruelty worthy of Waugh - but it is also deeply touching in its tender portrayals of life's victims...Art - the pursuit of it, the admiration of it, the coveting of it and the fighting over its legacy - comes, here, to seem to be about mortality and the deeply human need to make our mark. 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.
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... Yet so apparent are Rachman’s humanity and intelligence throughout that this ambiguity must be fully intended. 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.
Tom Rachman’s fiction is a distinctive blend of narrative zest and emotional subtlety. While these two features don’t always rub along smoothly (one points to comedy, the other to tragedy), in Rachman’s work they are seamlessly combined.Rachman’s new novel, The Italian Teacher, may well be his most impressive yet... A novel about a mediocrity is a risky proposition: mediocre people tend to lead uneventful lives. Rachman’s spirited writing propels the reader through the more sombre episodes, which include depression, suicide and terminal illness.