“Don’t be cruel. Don’t be sappy. Try to truly feel something. Now you can read”. Teresa is forty-seven years old and lives in a small, provincial city that is “neither big nor small, neither famous nor unknown”. Succubus to a despotic, voracious, and endlessly talkative mother, and therefore horrid, she is an eternal daughter. As thin as a dried prune, Teresa is also a chain-smoker. Alone and lonely, she stays afloat by letting the bland routine of her days wash over her: doing errands in town, teaching English lessons at a school for kids who’ve dropped out, taking bike rides. “I’m like a sole, I live on the ocean floor”, she tells her diary, the only place where she has the freedom to dream about Alessandro, her ex-student, who is gorgeous and cocky. Teresa dreams about him with a vividness that stuns her. He seems to her like the most beautiful creature in the world. But when he suddenlyreappears in her life, he has other plans. His dreams are the engine that will lead to a new life far away; with all the hyperbole of the “Hundred Million” in the title, this is a chance to start over and enjoy a beautiful future.With her narrative voice and careful eye, Marta Cai illuminates her characters directly, shows them respect, calibrates a careful intercutting of scenes and then makes everything explode, first showing love for Teresa and then, a few lines later, ferociously underscoring her weaknesses. Her language is merciless, lyrical, amusing. She can scoop up banter and turn it into a form of literature, she’s a belletrist who ambles through this anonymous city, brings us there, shows us the endless tract-homes, market stalls, and distant horizons… making us feel like something horrible is about to happen.
Marta Cai was born in Canelli in 1980 and for some years lives in Curitiba, in Brazil. She has translated a number of books, and some of her stories have appeared in literary journals including inutile and Il Reportage. In 2019 she published her collection Enti di ragione (Edizioni SuiGeneris).