Italian books and their authors: the brightest pens that the world envies us
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«Just last year, the writer Jeanne Bonner was questioning the literature blog Litherary Hub on the poor visibility that Italian female authors get in the rankings. Even though the authors of these Italian books are great, the female names would be 50% lower than those of male colleagues.»
Where are the Italian female writers? Bonner wondered. In the list of the ten best Italian books of the twenty first century, Panorama included only one woman, Michela Murgia with her Accabadora. And in fact the writer who inspired the screenplay of Virzì’s Tutta la vita davanti is among the few lucky ones to have been translated abroad. Il Libraio has mentioned, among the best contemporary writers, Margaret Mazzantini, Elena Ferrante and Simonetta Agnello Hornby. Sifting through American and British websites and blogs, the most translated writers abroad, excluding Elena Ferrante, would be Dacia Maraini, Margaret Mazzantini, Viola di Grado, Melania Mazzucco and Francesca Melandri.
So, without wasting any more time, we tell you about the profiles of the most famous Italian authors abroad.
Dacia Maraini is our first author, from which great Italian books were born. Born in 1936 in Fiesole, she has English and Polish origins, a Sicilian mother and Ticinese father. She won the Campiello Prize in 1990 with The Long Life of Marianna Ucria and in 1999 she won the Strega Prize with Buio. Her first novel, La vacanza, dates back to 1962. Twenty-one others will follow. The last one, Three women: A story of love and disaffection, tells the unsettling and unbalanced paths of a love story with the elegant sharpness typical of this Italian author. Maraini has also written stories, poems and theatrical pieces so much that in 2000 Rizzoli published Fare Teatro,1966-2000, two volumes that collect more than thirty years of the author’s dramaturgical work. In 2018 she was nominated president of the scientific committee of Palermo Italian Capital of Culture and she is the director of the literary magazine Nuovi Argomenti, Mondadori.
Margaret Mazzantini our second Italian author, was born in 1961 in Dublin. She studied acting at the Silvio D’Amico National Academy of Dramatic Arts and then successfully devoted herself to writing and screenwriting. In the ’80s she began a successful career as an actress. In 1994 she published his first novel, Il Catino di Zinco, which won the Campiello Prize. From there the Mazzantini will not miss a shot, gaining a huge consent of the public. In 2002 her novel Non ti muovere, from which the film of the same name was made, won the Strega Prize and the Grinzane Cavour Prize. In 2003 Margaret Mazzantini was invested with the honor of Lady of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, the highest of the orders of the Italian Republic. Among the Italian authors she one of the most loved and appreciated, in the Belpaese and beyond.
Viola Di Grado
Viola Di Grado is the youngest woman to have won the Campiello Prize with Settanta acrilico trenta lana (2011) and is the youngest finalist in the Strega Prize. Her second novel, Cuore Cavo (Edizioni e/o, 2013) had the same success and brought together public and critics, making her one of the most appreciated Italian authors. In 2016 she left the publishing house Bompiani for Elisabetta Sgarbi’s La nave di Teseo. In 2012, she appeared among the ten best-selling novels in the United States in the Marin Indipendent Journal. If you want to read some great Italian books, she is great choice.
Melania Gaia Mazzucco
Born in Rome in 1966, Melania G. Mazzucco graduated in Italian Literature at the University of Rome La Sapienza and at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia. In addition to winning the Strega Prize (2003) and the International Arcebispo Prize Juan de San Clemente in Spain, her novel Vita was included in the New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice and in Canada in the Globe and Mail Book of the year(2005). In 2005 she won the Hemingway Prize and the Roma Prize with the novel Un giorno perfetto, from which in 2009 Ferzan Özpetek directs the film of the same name with Valerio Mastrandrea, Isabella Ferrari and Stefania Sandrelli. In addition to her twelve novels, Melania has written for theater, cinema and radio.
Francesca Melandri born in Rome in 1964, is another author of great Italian books. She began her career as a screenwriter and then devoted herself to writing, becoming in a short time one of the most loved Italian authors. Her first novel, Eva Dorme (2010, Arnoldo Mondadori Editore), has been translated into German, Dutch, French and English and it has won numerous literary prizes, including the F. Seminara/Rhegium Julii Prize premiere 2010, Cesare de Lollis International Award 2010, Special Jury Prize Il Molinello 2011, Maria Teresa di Lascia Award 2011. In 2012 she published her second novel, Più alto del mare, with which she won the Campiello Prize and the Rapallo Prize, while in 2017, published by Rizzoli, it’s the turn of Sangue Giusto, reported for the Premio Strega 2018.
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