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.
César Aira dishes up an imaginative parable on how identity shapes our sense of belonging with Dinner, his latest release in English. Aira’s narrator (who, appropriately, remains nameless) is a self-pitying, bitter man—in his late fifties, living again with. . .
Originally published in French in 2007, We’re Not Here to Disappear (On n’est pas là pour disparaître) won the Prix Wepler-Fondation La Poste and the Prix Pierre Simon Ethique et Réflexion. The work has been recently translated by Béatrice Mousli. . .
Even though the latest from Jean Echenoz is only a thin volume containing seven of what he calls “little literary objects,” it is packed with surprises. In these pieces, things happen below the surface, sometimes both literally and figuratively. As. . .
Who is this woman? This is the question that opens Xiao Bai’s French Concession, a novel of colonial-era Shanghai’s spies and revolutionaries, police and smugglers, who scoot between doorways, walk nonchalantly down avenues, smoke cigars in police bureaus, and lounge. . .
For the past 140 years, Anna Karenina has been loved by millions of readers all over the world. It’s easy to see why: the novel’s two main plots revolve around characters who are just trying to find happiness through love.. . .
Linn Ullmann’s The Cold Song, her fifth novel, is built much like the house about which its story orbits: Mailund, a stately white mansion set in the Norwegian countryside a few hours drive from Oslo. The house, nestled into the. . .
Karel Schoeman’s Afrikaans novel, This Life, translated by Else Silke, falls into a genre maybe only noticed by the type of reader who tends toward Wittgenstein-type family resemblances. The essential resemblance is an elderly narrator, usually alone—or with one other. . .
In Joris-Karl Hyusmans’s most popular novel, À rebours (Against Nature or Against the Grain, depending on the which translated edition you’re reading), there is a famous scene where the protagonist, the decadent Jean des Esseintes, starts setting gemstones on the. . .
There are books that can only wisely be recommended to specific types of readers, where it is easy to know who the respective book won’t appeal to, and Kristiina Ehin’s Walker on Water is one these. What makes this neither. . .
Imagine the most baroque excesses of Goethe, Shakespeare, and Poe, blended together and poured into a single book: That is The Nightwatches of Bonaventura. Ophelia and Hamlet fall in love in a madhouse, suicidal young men deliver mournful and heartfelt. . .