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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The fathers shall not die for the children, neither shall the children die for the fathers, 1 July 2009
Leonard Fleisig "Len" (Virginia Beach, Virginia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Father and the Foreigner, The (Europa Editions) (Paperback)
but every man shall die for his own sin." Chronicles 25:4

There are a few publishers who will cause me to give a book a try simply because they've published it. NYRB Classics is one and Europa Editions another. They each have a discerning eye for good writing and don't seem to feel constrained by genre or geography. So when I came across Giancarlo De Cataldo's "The Father and the Foreigner" I picked it up based on my previous experience with Europa. I was not disappointed.

Diego Marini, lives in Rome, is a functionary at the Ministry of Justice and "the Father" of a severely handicapped infant. When the story opens Diego is sitting on a park bench waiting to pick up his child from the nursery school/therapy facility his parents have placed him in. It is clear he is depressed both over his child's disability and over the general stagnation that marks his marriage and his career. While sitting there another parent of a disabled child, "the Foreigner" strikes up a conversation. The conversation marks the beginning of a strange and mysterious friendship and "The Father and the Foreigner" tells the tale of that relationship.

The Foreigner is from an unnamed country (Diego never learns his place of origin nor does the reader) in the Middle East. He appears to have a lot of money and is remarkably well-connected. However, there is more, much more to the Foreigner than meets the eye and Diego is at once both entranced and afraid of the prospect that the Foreigner's intrigue may be more than a bit dangerous. Diego's life is transformed and not necessarily for the better.

I enjoyed "The Father and The Foreigner" for a number of reasons. First, although I wouldn't call this an espionage or spy thriller, the tone and plot lines called to mind the type of stories written by Eric Ambler
(Cause for AlarmandBackground to Dangerfor example). Typically, Ambler would take an unassuming, unsuspecting spectator and immerse him in a world of mystery and intrigue in pre-World War II Europe. The character of Diego created by the author, Giancarlo De Cataldo really calls many of Ambler's protagonists to mind, albeit in a contemporary setting.

The book was uneven in spots and some readers may be disturbed to find that this is not a pot boiling suspense story but a slower paced examination of a relationship between two men sharing a very sad common bond. However, for me the character development and the plotting made the book enjoyable. As noted, I picked this book up `on spec' but am happy I did. Recommended. L. Fleisig
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Father and the Foreigner, The (Europa Editions)
Father and the Foreigner, The (Europa Editions) by Giancarlo de Cataldo (Paperback - 14 May 2009)
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