This post is from Kathryn Longenbach, another of our summer interns. (But one that I haven’t set up with her own account, which is why I’m posting on her behalf. As a fan of Italian literature, she wanted to write up something about this year’s Primo Strega award, which was announced recently.
Since 1947, the Premio Strega has been one of the most prestigious Italian literary awards. Every year, a jury (now containing 400 members) chooses five recently published works of fiction as finalists. From these finalists, the jury chooses one winner to receive the prize. After an incredibly close race, the 2012 Premio Strega was awarded to Alessandro Piperno’s Inseparabili, il fuoco dei ricordi (published by Mondadori). Emanuele Trevi’s Qualcosa di scritto (Ponte alle Grazie) finished as the runner up by a margin of merely two votes: Piperno’s work received 126 votes while Trevi’s received 124. Il silenzio dell’onda (Rizzoli), by Gianrico Carofiglio, came in a close third with 119 votes.
Here are short write-ups about all three finalists:
Alessandro Piperno’s Inseparabili, il fuoco dei ricordi, follows a pair of brothers, Filippo and Samuel Pontecorvo (also the protagonists of Piperno’s Persecuzione). Piperno describes the struggles of the Pontecorvo family as Filippo unexpectedly rises to fame while Samuel finds himself in the midst of various financial and emotional crises.
Emanuele Trevi’s Qualcosa di scritto tells the story of a young writer who finds work in the archives of Pier Paolo Pasolini (Italian writer, poet, and director). Throughout the novel, Trevi describes various events that lead to the inevitable withdrawal from an era of naïve adolescence and the initiation into a world full of secrets and mystery.
Il silenzio dell’onda by Gianrico Carofiglio, focuses on the life of an ex-undercover agent named Roberto Marias. He spent his life being forced to lie, cheat, and hide and is now living in the effects his corrupt past. Through interactions with various characters (notably his psychiatrist), however, Marias begins to set on a path towards redemption.
Many of Virginie Despentes’s books revolve around the same central idea: “To be born a woman [is] the worst fate in practically every society.” But this message is nearly always packaged in easy-to-read books that fill you with the pleasure. . .
Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s La Superba is appropriately titled after the Italian city of Genoa, where, after escaping the pressures of fame in his own country, the semi-autobiographical narrator finds himself cataloguing the experiences of its mesmerizing inhabitants with the intention. . .
It took reading 44 pages of Intervenir/Intervene before I began to get a sense of what Dolores Dorantes and Rodrigo Flores Sánchez were up to. Recurring throughout these 44 pages—throughout the entire book—are shovels, shovel smacks to the face, lobelias—aha!. . .
As presaged by its title, contradiction is the theme of Peter Stamm’s novel, All Days Are Night. Gillian, a well-known television personality, remains unknowable to herself. And Hubert, a frustrated artist and Gillian’s lover, creates art through the process of. . .
It’s a rare and wonderful book that begins and ends with violence and humor. At the start of Etgar Keret’s The Seven Good Years, Keret is in a hospital waiting for the birth of his first child while nurses, in. . .
Last year, Han Kang’s The Vegetarian was an unexpected critical hit. Now, it’s just been published in the U.S. and has already received a great deal of positive critical attention. The Vegetarian was a bold book to attempt as an. . .
It’s been almost a year since the publication of Nowhere to Be Found by Bae Suah, but despite being included on the 2015 PEN Translation award longlist, and some pretty vocal support from key indie presses, the book has. . .
Jorge Eduardo Benavides’ novel La paz de los vencidos (The Peace of the Defeated) takes the form of a diary written by a nameless Peruvian thirty-something intellectual slumming it in Santa Cruz de Tenerife in Spain’s Canary Islands. Recently relocated. . .
Anyone with any interest at all in contemporary Moroccan writing must start with Souffles. A cultural and political journal, Souffles (the French word for “breaths”) was founded in 1966 by Abdellatif Laâbi and Mostafa Nissabouri. Run by a group of. . .
Randall Jarrell once argued a point that I will now paraphrase and, in doing so, over-simplify: As a culture, we need book criticism, not book reviews. I sort of agree, but let’s not get into all of that. Having finished. . .