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.
The last five days of the eleventh-century Icelandic politician, writer of sagas, and famous murder victim Snorri Sturleleson (the Norwegian spelling, Snorre, is preserved in the book) make up Thorvald Steen’s most recently translated historical fiction, The Little Horse. Murdered. . .
We all know Paris, or at least we think we know it. The Eiffel Tower. The Latin Quarter. The Champs-Élysées. The touristy stuff. In Dominique Fabre’s novel, Guys Like Me, we’re shown a different side of Paris: a gray, decaying. . .
One hundred pages into Birth of a Bridge, the prize-winning novel from French writer Maylis de Kerangal, the narrator describes how starting in November, birds come to nest in the wetlands of the fictional city of Coca, California, for three. . .
At 30, the Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli is already gathering her rosebuds. Faces in the Crowd, her poised debut novel, was published by Coffee House Press, along with her Brodsky-infused essay collection, Sidewalks. The essays stand as a theoretical map. . .
Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires: An Attainable Utopia (narrated by Julio Cortázar) is, not disappointingly, as wild a book as its title suggests. It is a half-novella half-graphic novel story about . . . what, exactly? A European tribunal, Latin. . .
Marie NDiaye has created a tiny, psychological masterpiece with her Self-Portrait in Green. In it she explores how our private fears and insecurities can distort what we believe to be real and can cause us to sabotage our intimate relationships.. . .
Reading a genre book—whether fantasy, science fiction, crime, thriller, etc.—which begins to seem excessively, stereotypically bad, I have to make sure to ask myself: is this parodying the flaws of the genre? Usually, this questioning takes its time coming. In. . .
The Sicilian Mafia has always been a rich subject for sensational crime fiction. The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos worked the mob’s bloody corpses and family feuds to both entertainment and artistic value. Giuseppe di Piazza’s debut novel attempts this,. . .
Antoine Volodine’s vast project (40 plus novels) of what he calls the post-exotic remains mostly untranslated, so for many of us, understanding it remains touched with mystery, whispers from those “who know,” and guesswork. That’s not to say that, were. . .
It hasn’t quite neared the pitch of the waiting-in-line-at-midnight Harry Potter days, but in small bookstores and reading circles of New York City, an aura has attended the novelist Elena Ferrante and her works. One part curiosity (Who is she?),. . .