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The New Yorker: "Wickedly scathing début novel, a coruscating mixture of satire, family epic, Proustian meditation, and erotomaniacal farce."

Date: Sep 17 2007

"Today it's a trip to be Jewish. Lamented, looked after, exalted." So declares Daniel Sonnino, the disgruntled and dissembling narrator of this wickedly scathing début novel, a coruscating mixture of satire, family epic, Proustian meditation, and erotomaniacal farce. Daniel is hellbent on recording  every idiosyncrasy of his wealthy Roman Jewish clan, a tribe of voluptuaries who are "allergic to inner life," their customs summed up  as "Twist. Midnight swims. Gallons of alcohol." Among the cast are Daniel's philandering grandfather, who, when bankrupt, flees to New York on the Concorde; his father, an albino dandy; and his Catholic  mother, who dismisses the Sonninos (including her husband and sons) as "braggarts, dishonest, happy-go-lucky egotists, who lived beyond their own possibilities." There's no plot per se, but Piperno's headlong prose is worth the ride, by turns slangy and incantatory, incisive and profane.