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Sul corno del rinoceronte
Set during the demise of Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali which set off the Arab Spring, Sul corno del rinoceronte tells of the close and intense friendship between two women, Meriem and Mary. The latter, a young Italian anthropologist, the former, a Tunisian who fled to Italy out of love, both share history together despite pronounced cultural differences. Upon hearing of Meriem’s death, Mary arrives in Tunisia, where her friend’s funeral is being held. Tunis, the capital, is barely visible among clouds of tear gas and burnt heaps of rubbish, whilst the oppressive way of life for women does little to help Mary’s sense of confusion. Of one thing, however, Mary is sure: if she is to reach Al-Qayrawan, her dead friend’s native city just south of Tunis, she will have to take a taxi. So she jumps on the first one she finds and its driver, Hedi, becomes a sort of guide to her, the Virgil to her Dante, taking her on a journey as metaphysical as it is literal. With his help, she makes her way across a country in full revolutionary throttle as well as a process of self-discovery.
With a stripped-back, fast moving narrative and a vivid dialogue, the plot gains a real sense of momentum as we follow Mary’s journey through Tunisia. The overall result is one that is as breath-taking to the reader, as its events are to our protagonist.
247 pages – Original language: Italian (L’asino d’oro, 2015)
the Societal Insights of LEONARDO SCIASCIA and
the Restless Psychological Investigation of LUIGI PIRANDELLO.
L’Inferriata (The Railing – Rizzoli, 1976)
Diletta is a last year student at high school, strong and rebellious, she disputes the dynamics of a retrograde society in Sicily, embodied to perfection by her family. The love for a young man of a lower social class encourages her to rebel against a programmed life. When the family finally accepts the young boyfriend, Diletta realizes that Mario wastes no time in bowing to a logic she has always fought and, scandalizing once again the whole family, decides to break the engagement. With realism filtered by extraordinary imaginative skills Laura Di Falco has been often associated to De Roberto and Pirandello.
STREGA PRIZE FINALIST 1976
272 pages – Original language: Italian (VerbaVolant Edizioni, 2012)
Tre Mogli (Three Wives – Rizzoli, 1967)
Ferdinando Rivasecca is locked up in seminary after a physical disability that affects his sexual activity. Instead of being discouraged he prepares to conquer the world by taking advantage of his condition. Around him and his emancipation, the role played by the historical period in which he lives: post-unification Sicily. Ferdinando works patiently to subvert social expectations (the impairment that so seemed to have damaged him) and ends up with three women. Each, with different roles, will establish a series of difficult and ambiguous relationships. Di Falco narrates of Diomira who just wants to scale the social ladder, Giulietta who is always looking for an impossible love, and Ofelia only interested in making money. Each of the four characters’ efforts will be useless for the changes caused by the war. And to come forward will be the new generation embodied by the young niece Sandra.
504 pages – Original language: Italian (VerbaVolant Edizioni, 2013)
Una donna disponibile (An Available Woman Rizzoli, 1959)
Elena is a woman of thirty-five, the wife of a prominent lawyer, bored and tired with a wrong marriage and the mundane routine of her life, but unable to break free from the conventions of bourgeois society. She meets Ennio, a young man in his twenties, and the two begin a sensual relationship. But in the end Elena is disappointed when she realizes that even this relationship does not add anything new to her life. It has, however, the merit of helping her to find herself.
“Una donna disponibile is a post-war psychological novel that comes alive through the detailed descriptions of its heroine restless state of mind. Undoubtedly, however, this is also a work that depicts an era, full of references, among others, to Sartre and Moravia. A novel about the stages in the life of a woman in search of herself, who is learning to define herself through the sum of her deliberate actions. It can therefore be considered as a great contribution to existentialist literature in Italy.” Thomas Stain
STREGA PRIZE FINALIST 1959
172 pages – Original language: Italian (VerbaVolant Edizioni, 2014). Rights Sold: Turkish (Cumartesi Kitalpigi, 2018)