Skip to main content
Outdated Browser

For the best experience using our website, we recommend upgrading your browser to a newer version or switching to a supported browser.

More Information

Italian For Beginners

July 2005

We’d rather be in Italy this summer, but since we’re not, we might as well pull up an armchair and a bottle of dolcetto and print out a few “antipasti” from WWB. But there are no Tuscan clichés in this batch, only a particular attention to the physical and the paradoxical. Elena Ferrante turns to lingerie to explore a middle-aged woman’s feelings about her mother and herself. The hilarious and fabulous Matteo Bianchi gives us a proverbial “Italian mother” who finds her own freedom at a Gay Pride Parade. (Check out Matteo’s website for some contemporary love of retro). The elegant Filippo Tuena gives us an utterly convincing portrait of a writer haunted by having excised the death of his father from his novel, while Melania Mazzucco finds her characters taking on lives, and histories, of their own. Laura Pariani’s elderly painter finds the young object of his affection far less innocent than his infatuation; Ornela Vorpsi’s mordant yet virginal Albanian teen skewers her prurient elders. If you’re in a classic mood, we recommend Ignazio Silone’s melancholy and beautiful “At the Foot of an Almond Tree.” Special thanks to our brilliant Italian editor friend Benedetta Centovalli, who has gathered the majority of the selections for this feature and more to come next month. Finally, if you missed the PEN World Voices Literary Festival, click here to hear audio clips of WWB-featured authors and to see video of the WWB-sponsored panel discussion on “Love and Hate.”

Troublesome Love
By Elena Ferrante
Once he was certain that a man in the crowd had touched her. In front of everyone he hit her.
Translated from Italian by Ann Goldstein
Maternal Pride
By Matteo B. Bianchi
The first pride Rosa felt on this day was for herself.
Translated from Italian by Liesl Schillinger
Variations on the La-Z-Boy Recliner, and Dinner with the Editor
By Filippo Tuena
…perhaps reassured by the alcoholic content of the drink or perhaps answering to a distant sense of urgency, finally suggests, perhaps we shouldn’t have cut the death of the father.
Translated from Italian by Marina Harss
The Color Black Has a Huge Mouth
By Laura Pariani
The evening heat was humid, heavy. Henri stopped for a moment to examine, one by one, the reproductions of photographs he had clipped from various sports newspapers and pinned on the walls, after going…
Translated from Italian by Jamie Richards
At the Foot of an Almond Tree
By Ignazio Silone
It appears unexpectedly, in its ancient and dark abyss. At the sight of it, I don’t know why, I lost my breath and I slowed my step.
Translated from Italian by Stanislao G. Pugliese