The Homecoming Party, By Carmine Abate

Reviewed,Boyd Tonkin
Friday 01 October 2010 00:00 BST

Carmine Abate grew up in a remote village in Calabria speaking a version of Albanian ("Alberesh"). His fiction takes drama, humour and lyricism down the migrant road that leads from poor, traditional southern Italy to the cold, wealthy climates of northern Europe.

Translated by Antony Shugaar, this sensuous short novel interlaces the lives of a migrant father and stay-at-home son as they meet for a Christmas Eve feast in Calabria.

The father's tales of toil in the mines and on the highways of northern France confirm his belief that "once you leave, you can't just come back home". His son's childhood, amid woods and hills of home, unfolds in scenes of natural plenty and social dearth.

Together, their twined lives build into the "dialogue" that Abate seeks "between those who stay and those who leave".

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