LIVIA FRANCHINI is a writer and translator from Tuscany, Italy. Selected publications include The Quietus, 3:AM, The White Review, LESTE, Hotel, PEN Transmissions and the anthologies On Bodies (3 of Cups) and Wretched Strangers (Boiler House Press). She has translated Natalia Ginzburg, James Tiptree Jr. and Michael Donaghy among many others. Livia is one of the inaugural writers-in-residence of the Connecting Emerging Literary Artist project, funded by the European Union, which will see her work translated into 6 languages. She has performed from her work internationally, most notably at Faber Social, Standon Calling, Lowlands and Hay Festival. Livia is currently at work on a funded PhD in experimental women’s writing at Goldsmiths.
Her debut novel, SHELF LIFE, was published by Doubleday in the UK in August 2019.
Launching an intelligent, perceptive new voice in fiction, Shelf Life is the exquisite, heart-wrenching story of a woman rebuilding herself on her own terms.
Ruth is thirty years old. She works as a nurse in a care home and her fiancé has just broken up with her. The only thing she has left of him is their shopping list for the upcoming week.
And so she uses that list to tell her story. Starting with six eggs, and working through spaghetti and strawberries, and apples and tea bags, Ruth discovers that her identity has been crafted from the people she serves; her patients, her friends, and, most of all, her partner of ten years. Without him, she needs to find out – with conditioner and single cream and a lot of sugar – who she is when she stands alone.
Praise for SHELF LIFE:
"Though unsettling at times, the unrelenting rawness of Shelf Life forms its brilliance. Franchini shows how, in the contradictory isolation of the city, many remain lonely as their lives graze and bump with others each day. The novel is a bold and uncompromising addition to experimental women’s writing, exposing truths at every turn. It’s not comfortable but really, that’s fine – it’s not trying to be." Sophie Whitehead, The F-Word
"It is impossible not to be moved.. It is a modern story told in a modern way." Ella Walker, The Herald
"Livia Franchini has delivered an impressive, Sally Rooney-esque debut novel." New Statesman
"Quirky, awkward and fresh... there’s a confidence to the wilful eccentricities of her writing that reminded me of Miranda July, as well as a fresh voice that’s highly readable." Guardian
"This intriguing debut ends up weirder and more structurally adventurous than its chattily plain-spoken opening leads us to expect... an unpredictable exploration of 21st-century sexual mores" Daily Mail
“The writing isn’t overblown or pretentious; it’s a modern story told in a modern way.” i
"SHELF LIFE is whip-smart, slyly heartbreaking, and I felt the truth of it in my bones. Franchini dissects ideas of love, dating and identity in a way that feels both ruthless and humane. I loved it." Sophie Mackintosh, author of The Water Cure
“A quirky, funny, poignant book which shimmers with originality. I loved it." Sarah Langford, author of In Your Defence
"Shelf Life is a truly unique read; a book so thoughtfully and articulately written it draws the reader deep into the painful heart of a fracturing relationship. Ruth, the novel's central character is crafted in such a believable way, I felt every one of her disappointments keenly. I was rooting for her throughout. By the final page I felt like we'd been through something monumental together." Jan Carson, author of The Fire Starters
"A novel that explores the precarities, fragilities and tendernesses of modern life — it scintillates." Eley Williams, author of Attrib: and other stories
"This is a beautiful novel. The scene with the mother and the chicken is one of the most rigorous, affecting, strange scenes I have read in a while and it's still haunting me. It was funny, and sad, and I devoured it. It reminded me of Convenience Store Woman. I absolutely loved it." Susannah Dickey, author of Tennis Lessons
"Shelf Life is so intimate. It's like riding the bus home with a friend as she confides her secret hopes and fears. Each raw emotion is carefully delivered. Franchini has created a protagonist who feels achingly real. I wanted to cancel all my plans and just read this book." Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, author of Harmless Like You
"Shelf Life feels like a Bridget Jones for cynical souls. Franchini captures perfectly the mundane devastation of heartbreak and the utter impossibility of knowing and being known. Sweet, funny, odd and achingly perceptive, this seemingly small tale asks some terrifyingly big questions about love, loss, identity and existence. I couldn’t put it down." Natasha Bell, author of His Perfect Wife
"SHELF LIFE is dark and disarming. Franchini's voice is sharp and clever and her debut novel tells us truths about how and why we love." Jessica Andrews, author of Saltwater