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My Mother is a River by Donatella Di Pietrantonio

Translated by Franca Scurti Simpson.

My Mother Is a River is Di Pietrantonio’s first novel. The novel chronicles the relationship between a daughter and her aging mother who has dementia and is slowly drifting away from reality and into her own perception of the world. The relationship between mother and daughter is strained, but the narrator, as eldest daughter, takes care of her and helps her cope with her identity which is fading away.

Some days the illness eats away at her emotions too. The body is listless, it leaks the emptiness that drains it. It loses the ability to feel. It doesn’t suffer, it doesn’t live, not then.

The check-ups are for my benefit. They reassure me; it wasn’t I who made her sick and the progression is slow. Some abilities are partially preserved. I go with her, I look after her, I am a good enough daughter.


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