A timely, hilarious, and inventive novel by the author of I Am God about a family of misfit savants that explores (dis)ability, artificial intelligence, and the interdependence of technology and the natural world, narrated by the family's deaf youngest son.
Growing up deaf, the young narrator of Giacomo Sartori's novel Bug is hyper-attuned to the vibrations of the atoms in the air and the mental weather in those around him. He has a hard time focusing on what adults want him to, though, and sometimes bites people when agitated. Yet he's hardly the only unique one in his brood. His tech-genius older brother is called IQ in public and Robin Hood in the hackersphere, where he breaks into the systems of the pesticide corporation responsible for decimating his mother's bees. Their semi-estranged father is an engineer who profiles consumers for Nutella, which, our narrator knows, serves as a cover for his real job of pinpointing terrorists. Though divorced, he's moved back into the converted chicken coop where the family lives. They're visited by their grandfather, a retired anarchist now working on a magnum opus about worms. There's certainly enough going on in the family before their mother gets sideswiped by a semi truck and ends up comatose.
In his mother's silence, our narrator decides that if he can become better behaved, he'll make her emerald eyes snap back open. His speech therapist and confidante, Logo, takes his sign-language dictation as he relates the events of his days and his thoughts to his mom. He tells her about the artificial intelligence robot his brother is designing, of their battle with the neighbor (he of the pesticides), and the smart beehive they've built for her. And his new mysterious friend, Bug, who shows up on the computer one day and seems very familiar with the family. . . .
With the warm satirical humor and intelligence that made readers fall in love with his novel I Am God, Giacomo Sartori weaves a dense dysfunctional family story like no other, weighted with searching questions about how we deal with technology, the earth, and each other.
Praise for I Am God
"I Am God is an almost outrageously charming book.... Giacomo Sartori takes a simple, playful premise and sets the universe crazily spinning. The Italian writer has conjured up a delicious, comical stream of omniconsciousness: a pensive diary by the original omniscient narrator, God. Sartori's God, a being of authentic complexity and paradoxical humanity, of both otherworldly dignity and satirical absurdity, is an irresistible character.... His withering pronouncements resemble the dry, intelligent wit of a celestial Oscar Wilde more than the crash of vengeful thunderbolts from on high. And his aim is true.... Sartori's humor, godlike, infus[es] every part of the book from the premise to the plot to the venal, amiably clueless characters to the language of the diary narrated in the celestial being's intelligent, deadpan voice.... The elegant, easy-going translation by Frederika Randall is convincing and conversational, reveling in the diary's asides, footnotes, and parentheses in which God is constantly setting the record, and the reader, straight.... Sartori has bestowed on us a narrative that is both comforting and disconcerting. His main character is preposterous and genuine, a supremely confident supreme being discovering the immensity of human insignificance, the wonders of confusion and vulnerability, the limitless frustrations of language and love and, of course, sex.... He's large, he contains multitudes, and he is the ultimate unreliable narrator."
--Cathleen Schine, New York Review of Books
"The narrator of Sartori's hilarious, insightful novel, his first to be published in English, is none other than God, a proper monotheistic deity stirred in a very human way by one of his own creations.... On page after laugh-out-loud page, this articulate God--and author--cover just about every cynical and lofty concept concerning one's own existence that humans ever pondered. This is an immensely satisfying feat of imagination."
--Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"Who better to reflect on the state of the planet than its creator? I Am God is by turns funny, sad, outrageous, and tender--a cosmic romp."
--Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer prize-winning author of The Sixth Extinction
"A highly original novel, showing that there is, thankfully, more to Italian fiction than Elena Ferrante."
--Howard Davies, Financial Times Best Books of 2019: Critics' Picks
"This novel is an utterly serious and wildly comic test of the strange idea we take for granted in reading prose fiction--the pretense of the omniscient narrator.... By speaking in the voice of God, Sartori has simplified the premise and complicated the result of writing as such.... This God [is] the brilliant, hilarious, and utterly believable creation of Sartori."
--James Livingston, The New Republic
"I Am God is like a mirthful dream made real by the ingenuity of Sartori's prose and Randall's splendidly pointed and sly translation."
--Elizabeth McKenzie, author of The Portable Veblen
"In this riotous philosophical romp, Sartori has invented an omniscient narrator like no other and an identity crisis with truly cosmic implications. Poignant, hilarious, and serious by turns, this is a jeu d'esprit with both heart and mind."
--Eva Hoffman, author of Lost in Translation