Featured Translation: 100 Days of Happiness by Fausto Brizzi

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There were over 450 new translations published this year, and trust us, we know from experience, keeping track of them all can be a maddening exercise. Each weekday from now until the end of the year we’ll highlight a different title that you may have missed. From short story collections to epic novels, from award winning works of the highest literary caliber to trashy romantic beach reads, we’ll feature the very best, and the very worst that 2015 had to offer, one book at a time.

100 Days of Happiness by Fausto Brizzi / Translated from the Italian by Antony Shugaar100 Days of Happiness is one of those, “hey, I’m dead, but here’s how I really started to live in my final days” type of books. It’s sort of sappy and sentimental, but it’s also kind of playful and funny with pop culture references littered throughout like, “At this point, I’ll need to take a step back and give you a brief summary of my life up to the past few months; otherwise you’ll have a hard time following the plot, sort of like watching the sixth season of Lost.” Maybe you had to actually watch Lost from the very beginning to truly understand that level of pain, but you get the general idea.

Lucio Battistini is under forty years of age. He’s a one-time Olympic hopeful turned personal trainer. He’s dying, err, has died, of liver cancer. Over the course of the novel’s 369 pages he recounts both his pre-diagnois regrets and his bucket list goals for living a better life. And yeah, he does need to turn some things around, and quick, if he wants to be remembered as more then a cheater to the wife and kids he’ll leave behind:

She’s a very special woman, but that didn’t stop me from cheating on her a couple of months ago. I know, I know, you were just starting to like me and I’ve already proved to be a disappointment. What can I say in my own defense? Perhaps I could show you a snapshot of the specimen of womanhood who dragged me into temptation? No, I’m afraid that would only strengthen the case against me. To make a long story short, people, there’s no point beating around the bush—after eleven years of marriage, I fell into the pathetic booby trap of infidelity. I’m sorry, but I’m going to beg you to trust me, there were some extenuating circumstances. Let’s take things in order. First of all, characters: Lorenzo and Eva. My children.

The subject matter being tackled isn’t exactly treated with the heavy weight you’d suspect though. There’s a lightheartedness to the whole affair, that depending what type of reader you are, will probably either draw you in immediately, for it’s quite hard not to like Lucio, even for all his faults, or turn you off just as quickly for it’s lack of gritty realism. Either way, 100 Days is an insanely readable book. Like those donuts on the cover, it’s covered in sugary goodness that leaves you wanting more.

Fausto Brizzi is also a screenwriter and a director. You can check out the trailer for his movie The Night Before Exams here, but be warned that it’s badly dubbed and there’s naked boobies! No watching from work. Unless you work in your underwear.

100 Days of Happiness was translated from the Italian by Antony Shugaar and was published in August by Pamela Dorman Books.

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About Aaron Westerman

Aaron Westerman is the Manager of Web Architecture for a national human services organization. When he's not busy tearing sites apart and rebuilding them, he spends his ever shrinking free time trying to keep up with his twins, reading works of translated literature, and watching far too many Oscar nominated movies.