Call Me by Your Name
256 pages; Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
An Italian Summer, in the busy household of an American professor on the Riviera, a house where friends and visitors amble down the narrow stairs to the beach for a swim every morning and you never quite know how many people will appear for dinner. This is the world of 17-year-old Elio, a brilliant musician just entering the fullness of his life, and though every summer his family hosts a young American academic at work on a first book, this year will be different, the season of a lifetime. Andre Aciman's Call Me by Your Name (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) is an extraordinary examination of longing and the complicated ways in which we negotiate the experience of attraction. Aciman is fascinated by psychological nuance: the ways we express desire, or try not to, and our elaborate attempts to read the expressions of others. Elio and Oliver make their way through weeks of avoidance toward an intimacy that will be the most profound one of their lives, as they travel to a wild evening in Rome right out of La Dolce Vita, separate at the end of August, and, in the book's wrenching final chapter, meet again many years later. It's startling that a novel so bracingly unsentimental—alert to the ways we manipulate, second-guess, forestall, and finally reach stumblingly toward one another—concludes with such emotional depths, as two people look back on a lost connection with both pleasure and regret. Sensuous, precise, and achingly observant, Call Me by Your Name is a compelling study of the way love transforms us.
— Mark Doty