In Italiano: Italian Lit in the News

I love Italy for many reasons: it has given us opera, a beautiful spoken language, pasta, some kick-ass literature, and many other things (I also married an Italian, so there’s that!). It should come as no surprise, then, that when I realized how much Italy was in the bookish headlines recently, I was molto eccitato!

(n.b. I audited Italian during grad school, but I don’t get much of a chance to use it, so I’m going to vocab-drop throughout this post- just lettin’ ya know).

Primo, if you haven’t heard the buzz around Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan series (which will be adapted for tv soon, apparently), you’ve been living on Mars or something. This four-part story about friendship, love, and family has taken America by storm, and the obscurity of the writer’s identity makes the quartet even more tantalizing. How have I not read any Ferrante yet, you ask? Three reasons: twins and a baby.

ANYWAY. I’m feeling a bit warm these days, so Ferrante Fever is definitely getting a hold on me. Imma check these books out.


Secondo, did you hear that recent NPR interview with Jhumpa Lahiri about her new memoir, In Other Words, which she wrote – you guessed it – in italiano ? That’s right. According to Lahiri, whom we know and love from Interpreter of Maladies and The Lowland (among other books), that perfect narrative voice that she was always chasing was eluding her in English. So, a lover of all things Italian (and a resident of that country), she decided to try writing in that language. Because, you know, she’s ridiculously awesome like that. Damn, I want to be that cool.


Terza, from the land of yet-another-recently-discovered-literary-thing-that-was-buried-in-some-archives, a scholar unearthed an Italian-language version of Edith Wharton’s 1900 short story “The Duchess at Prayer” (“La Duchessa in Preghiera”). The theory is that Wharton translated the story into Italian herself as a language exercise (see her writing of Ethan Frome in French). Wharton was an intense devotee of Italian culture, and a discovery like this shouldn’t come as a real surprise. I’ve never read this particular story, so I’d better get to it, yes?

Ok, I’m going to go listen to some of my favorite Italian arias. Check you guys later.

(first posted on Book Riot 2/22/16)

1 comment:

  1. Hehe, I tend to vocab-drop every now and then as well as I don't use my Italian much either (picked up the language late in my grad programme, which is funny because my focus had nothing to do with Italy) xD

    Anyway, great round-up! I haven't read anything my Jhumpa Lahiri but I really want to read that book. I also wish I was just as cool as her and write a whole book in Italian. That's also really cool about Edith Wharton's translated short story =D And oh man, I need to pick up Elena Ferrante's standalone novels; her Neapolitan novels were excellent, some of my favourite reads from last year. I'd also recommend Viola di Grado's Hollow Heart if you haven't come across it, I thought it was such a poignant read.