The final work of fiction from a legendary writer and translator.
In a series of short stories, some no more than a couple of pages long, di Giovanni captures the lives of the Italian American community in Newton, a suburb of Boston, in the middle of the 20th century. These are the workers, the labourers, the drunks, the women running family homes, the children playing in the streets, the romances, the arguments, the fights, the births, the deaths.
The stories are fiction but the people are real. These are the people who came to America for a better life. These are the people that Norman Thomas di Giovanni grew up with. This is his tribute to them. His ability to capture a person, an entire life story, in a phrase or a gesture is reminiscent of Richard Yates. Here is a writer at the height of his powers.
A Painful Duty is the last book Norman Thomas di Giovanni completed during his lifetime. He was working on the stories right up until his death in early 2017, at the age of 83.