Marriage, which had seemed an enchanting escape from her tedious, impoverished isolation—the “worn gloves and very little spending money,” the “dingy boarding-house,” the chilly schoolroom in which she taught Ovid—is in every way disappointing. (It probably doesn’t help that the husband’s mistress has told her she looks “like too much of a simple country girl” to murder anyone.) The prose is plain, direct but restrained, and much goes unsaid. Domestic life, its frustrations and miseries, occupies the foreground, the outside world barely discernible at the edges.

Harper’s Magazine

Finally back in print, a frighteningly lucid feminist horror story about marriage

The Dry Heart

Fiction by Natalia Ginzburg

Translated by Frances Frenaye

The Dry Heart begins and ends with the matter-of-fact pronouncement: “I shot him between the eyes.” As the tale—a plunge into the chilly waters of loneliness, desperation, and bitterness—proceeds, the narrator’s murder of her flighty husband takes on a certain logical inevitability. Stripped of any preciousness or sentimentality, Natalia Ginzburg’s writing here is white-hot, tempered by rage. She transforms the unhappy tale of an ordinary dull marriage into a rich psychological thriller that seems to beg the question: why don’t more wives kill their husbands?

Editions: PaperbackEbook

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Paperback (published June 25, 2019)

ISBN
9780811228787
Price US
12.95
Trim Size
5 x 8
Page Count
96

Ebook

ISBN
9780811228794

Marriage, which had seemed an enchanting escape from her tedious, impoverished isolation—the “worn gloves and very little spending money,” the “dingy boarding-house,” the chilly schoolroom in which she taught Ovid—is in every way disappointing. (It probably doesn’t help that the husband’s mistress has told her she looks “like too much of a simple country girl” to murder anyone.) The prose is plain, direct but restrained, and much goes unsaid. Domestic life, its frustrations and miseries, occupies the foreground, the outside world barely discernible at the edges.

Harper’s Magazine

Ginzburg never raises her voice, never strains for effect, never judges her creations. Though blessed with the rhythms and tensile strength of verse, her language is economical and spare, subordinate to the demands of the story. Like Chekhov, she knows how to stand back and let her characters expose their own lives, their frailties and strengths, their illusions and private griefs. The result is nearly translucent writing—writing so clear, so direct, so seemingly simple that it gives the reader the magical sense of apprehending the world for the first time.

—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

This book is a Roman candle — quick and explosive.

New York Times

Originally published in 1947, The Dry Heart is by far Ginzberg’s strangest work of fiction, a taught psychological thriller laced with horror about a woman who — very matter-of-factly in the first few sentences — murders her husband. “I shot him between the eyes,” the nameless narrator says, then goes out for coffee. Short enough to read in one sitting, it’s a feminist classic that exposes the dark side of marriage in clean, captivating prose.

Chicago Tribune

Unvarnished: Ginzburg, it’s clear, is a master of the deceptively simple plot. To say that she’s understated is itself a serious understatement. This slim, swift book was first published in Italy in 1947, but it feels chillingly modern. Haunting, spare, and utterly gorgeous, Ginzburg’s novel is a classic.

Kirkus (starred)

I’m utterly entranced by Ginzburg’s style—her mysterious directness, her salutary ability to lay things bare that never feels contrived or cold, only necessary, honest, clear.

—Maggie Nelson

A flawlessly negotiated descent into the deep and dangerous chasm separating love’s fantasies from life’s realities.

Los Angeles Times