This definitely is the Spring for Italian culture in New York. Europa Editions, the American company of Sandra and Sandro Ferri, has achieved a lot (http://www.europaeditions.com): along with Ferrante they have published many authors’… The Italian Academy is very active as well within Columbia University in an extraordinary endeavor of Renata Sperandio, who used to run the Italian institute in New York”. These are Ann Goldstein’s words, translator and point of reference of Italian literature in the US. In an interview a few months ago, during the full translation and re-printing of all of Primo Levi’s books. Italy’s stories hadn’t been received so fervently since the time of Calvino/Fallaci/Eco. Despite the American reticence towards books from other languages along with the absence of will of promoting Italian literature. It may be helpful to make a list (not ranking one, of course) of some Italian authors currently recognized abroad, quoted or reviewed by important magazines, invited to festivals and praised by the most eminent writers of English and American literature. Here they are.
Elena Ferrante. An author surrounded by mystery since no one seems to know her identity. Maybe a native of Naples, probably not that young anymore, with her tetralogy “L’amica geniale” (My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, The Lost Daughter), gatheres a lot of success among the readers and the critics. Featured by The New York Times and on New York Magazine’s cover. International writer Zadie Smith has recently claimed: “If you ask me which author I currently admire most, I would say Italian fiction writer Elena Ferrante”. Elena Ferrante has been nominated for Premio Strega 2015, the most prestigious Italian literary award.
Beppe Severgnini, writer, critic, journalist of Corriere della Sera, has been an opinion writer for the New York Times since 2013. He’s currently one of the best-selling Italian authors in the US. His “Un italiano in America” (Ciao, America! An Italian Discover the U.S.A.) is a National Bestseller.
Umberto Eco, doesn’t need introduction (West 46th Mag, among its editors, has one of his former university students) . His biography is known and his books are read worldwide. Appreciated in the US since 1983, when one of his works was first translated into English, “Il nome della rosa” (The Name of the Rose). He has been awarded and has been traveling across America delivering successful conferences. The New York Review of Books wrote about his latest “Il cimitero di Praga” (The Prague Cemetery): “And here, once again, is Umberto Eco’s fascination with deception, hoaxing, faking, and forgery”.
Alessandro Baricco is an author with a certain self-centered charm, which often gets the critics against him, popular enough to be considered both as a Premier League writer and ad a Rated 0 one. He’s at the head of an expensive, upscale school of creative writing. Know in USA due to his translator Ann Goldstein, who said about his recent “Emmaus”: “Translating <Emmaus> was just like translating poetry. And I have always seen poetry as the most arduous genre for a translator”.
The list could go further of course, not that much though. Excluding Dante, the most read one ever, Primo Levi and Tomasi di Lampedusa, there is a list of less famous but best selling authors back home. I am not talking about Arbasino or Emanuele Trevi, but of Giorgio Faletti, Fabio Volo, Gianfranco Avallone, Andrea Camilleri, Paolo Giordano and Fausto Brizzi. The latter will hit American bookshelves next month with his “100 days of happiness”.