“Moving and memorable. . . . Itani is an artist who understands what to include and what to leave out, when to whisper and when to shout. . . . Hers is a fiction of quiet but steady revelation. . . . Itani’s writing is merely breathtaking.” Dan Cryer, Newsday
978-0-8021-4165-1 • $14.00 • Paperback • Dec. 2004
Frances Itani's lauded debut novel is a tale of remarkable virtuosity and power, set on the eve of the Great War and spanning two continents and the life and loves of a young deaf woman in Canada named Grania O'Neill
“A gorgeously moving, old-fashioned novel” (O, The Oprah Magazine), Frances Itani’s lauded American debut novel has been sold in sixteen countries around the world, was a Canadian best seller for sixteen weeks, and has been awarded numerous prizes, including the Commonwealth Writers Prize Best Book Award for the Caribbean and Canadian Region. Set on the eve of the Great War, Deafening is a tale of remarkable virtuosity and power.
At the age of five, Graniathe daughter of hardworking Irish hoteliers in smalltown Ontarioemerges from a bout of scarlet fever profoundly deaf and is suddenly sealed off from the world that was just beginning to open for her. Her guilt-plagued mother cannot accept her daughter’s deafness. Grania’s saving grace is her grandmother Mamo, who tries to teach Grania to read and speak again. Grania’s older sister, Tress, is a beloved ally as wellobliging when Grania begs her to shout words into her ear canals and forging a rope to keep the sisters connected from their separate beds at night when Grania fears the terrible vulnerability that darkness brings. When it becomes clear that she can no longer thrive in the world of the hearing, her family sends her to live at the Ontario School for the Deaf in Belleville, where, protected from the often-unforgiving hearing world outside, she learns sign language and speech.
After graduation Grania stays on to work at the school, and it is there that she meets Jim Lloyd, a hearing man. In wonderment the two begin to create a new emotional vocabulary that encompasses both sound and silence. But just two weeks after their wedding, Jim must leave home to serve as a stretcher bearer on the blood-soaked battlefields of Flanders.
During this long war of attrition, Jim and Grania’s letters back and forthboth real and imaginedattempt to sustain their young love in a world as brutal as it is beautiful. Frances Itani’s depiction of a world where sound exists only in the margins is a singular feat in literary fiction, a place difficult to leave and even harder to forget.
A magnificent tale of love and war, Deafening is also an ode to languagehow it can console, imprison, and liberate, and how it alone can bridge vast chasms of geography and experience.
Deafening is being published around the world by the following publishers:
Brazil (Portuguese) - Editora Objetiva
Bulgaria (Bulgarian) - Uniscorp
Canada (English) - HarperCollins
Catalonia (Catalan) - Enciclopedia Catalana
France (French) - Editions JC Lattes
Germany (German) - Berlin Verlag
Greece (Greek) - Livani Publishing Organization
Holland (Dutch) - Arena
Italy (Italian) - Frassinelli/Sperling & Kupfer Editori
Japan (Japanese) - Shincho Sha
Poland (Polish) - Muza
Portugal (Portuguese) - Dom Quixote
Spain (Spanish) - Ediciones Maeva
UK (English) - Hodder & Stoughton
US (English) - Grove/Atlantic