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The Drama and Spice of Modern Italian Writing

October 6th, 2014
Galina · Staff Recommendations

Italian literature. What immediately comes to mind is classical literature.Cicero‘s rhetoric and philosophy. Virgil’s Aenid. Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron. Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince. Petrarch’s poetry. This takes us all the way up to the first third of the sixteenth century!

Fortunately, Italians haven’t stopped turning out fascinating modern classics, full of suspense, philosophy, and invention. Take a look at these fascinating Italian page-turners:

Umberto Eco (literary, historical, mystery, metafiction). Probably Italy’s most famous modern wordsmith, he has two private libraries with over 50,000 books total (jealous yet?). His most famous book is The Name of the Rose, which was made into a movie with Sean Connery. Read if you like literary thrillers with a philosophical twist.

Italo Calvino (literary short stories and novels). Raised by anti-Fascist parents, Calvino joined the Italian Resistance during World War II. He is best known as a writer of modern fables and experimental fiction. His novel, Invisible Cities, in which Marco Polo tells Kublai Khan of ten imaginary cities, is both. Read if you like metafictional writers like Jorge Luis Borges.

Dacia Maraini (literary, historical, mystery). A feminist and the daughter of a real-life Sicilian princess, her novel, The Silent Duchess, is about a woman who becomes deaf and mute after a childhood trauma, and uses her silence to build a fortress of the mind. Read if you like Margaret Atwood or Toni Morrison.

Andrea Camilleri (mystery, literary). Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano stories are so famous that his hometown, Porto Empedocle, changed its name to Porto Empedocle Vigàta to reflect its fictionalized version in the Montalbano books! The first of the series is The Shape of Water. Read if you’re a foodie–the books are full of gastronomical delights.

Marina Mander (fiction). Her first English book, The First True Lie, is a story about a boy who decides not to tell anyone that his mother won’t wake up. If you enjoyed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, this is for you.

Francesca Marciano (fiction, novels and short stories). An Italian screenwriter, Marciano’s novels combine stunning imagery and plots full of romance and tragedy. Her novel, Rules of the Wild, is set in Africa. Read if you like Isaak Dineson’s Out of Africa or Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate.

Tiziano Sclavi (graphic novels). His most famous work, the Dylan Dogseries, features a penniless investigator of the occult and is flavored with politics and the surreal. The series has been made into two English-language movies, Cemetery Man with Rupert Everett and Dylan Dog: Dead of Night with Brandon Routh. Read if you like horror or contemporary non-superhero comics.

Leonardo Sciascia (mystery, history, politics). His novel, The Day of the Owl, is a crime novel about the Mafia written and published at a time when the existence of the Mafia was so secret that it was debated whether it really existed. The novel led to greatly increased public debate and awareness. Read if you like The Godfather or The Sopranos.

Carlo Levi (memoir). After Carlo Levi, a doctor, spoke out against Fascism, he was exiled to a remote area of Italy–what is now known as Basilicata. At the time, the people of the area had a saying, “Christ stopped short of here, at Eboli,” to show that they had been bypassed by change, morality, even Christianity itself. At the time, the region suffered from crushing poverty, corruption, and even malaria. Read if you like Frank McCourt or Elie Wiesel.

Alessandro Baricco (fiction, literary). His works regularly top the Italian and French bestseller lists, and range from An Iliad, the retelling of the siege of Troy; to Silk, the story of a nineteenth-century merchant who travels to Japan to obtain silkworm eggs and holds a secret love affair; to The Story of Don Juan, a retelling of the story of the famous womanizer. Read if you like Isabel Allende.

So pick up a book by one of these engrossing authors and get lost, not necessarily in the classics, but in the drama and spice of modern Italian writing. And please join us at the 37th annual “It’s Great to Live In Harrison” celebration:

Fireworks & Fun

Location: West Harrison Fire House
Date: Saturday, October 11th, 2014
Time: 7:00pm

Police Department Open House

Location: 650 North Street, Police Department
Date: Saturday, October 11th, 2014
Time: 10:00 – 2:00pm

Parade and Festival

Location: Riis Park
Date: Monday, October 13th, 2014
Time: 10:00am

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