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

Backstories: Afro-Italian Women Writers

July/August 2021

Image of woman and peony, entitled Maggio, by Iranian artist Nazanin Rastan, also known as Mafreshou

Image: Nazanin Rastan, “Maggio.” Courtesy of the artist.


This issue presents writing by Afro-Italian women. In the face of xenophobic rhetoric and policies, Black Italians have pushed their country to confront its colonial past and engage with its present diversity. The writers featured here plumb both contemporary and historical experiences of Blackness within Italy. Igiaba Scego recalls her experience in the Italian school system as the Black daughter of a Somali immigrant. Ubah Cristina Ali Farah depicts a Muslim teen in Rome discovering an unexpected connection to an alleged terrorist. Marie Moïse describes her search for her Haitian roots in her doubly displaced family history. And Djarah Kan gives voice to a Malian immigrant murdered by a Calabrian white supremacist. We thank our guest editors, Candice Whitney and Barbara Ofosu-Somuah, who with their fellow translators Aaron Robertson and Hope Campbell Gustafson provide an instructive introduction.

Afro-Italian Women in Translation: An Introduction
By Candice Whitney, Barbara Ofosu-Somuah, Aaron Robertson, Hope Campbell Gustafson
What is national literature and how is it defined? Often, when one thinks of a particular nation or language, they imagine a specific phenotype tied to a historical narrative. A cursory Google search…
An empty playground with a merry go round
Photo by Loegunn Lai on Unsplash
My Home Is Where I Am
By Igiaba Scego
Somali-Italian writer Igiaba Scego recalls her childhood experiences in the Italian educational system in this memoir.
Translated from Italian by Aaron Robertson
Soumaila Sacko: Story of the Good Life
By Djarah Kan
But if you drink and breathe and sweat and love in a country that is no longer yours, then you are not a migrant. You are a man.
Translated from Italian by Candice Whitney
Bambi
By Ubah Cristina Ali Farah
“In your opinion, why’d he do it?”
Translated from Italian by Hope Campbell Gustafson
We Cried a River of Laughter
By Marie Moïse
Writer Marie Moïse describes her search for her roots and traces her family’s history of cross-Atlantic displacement.I spent my youth seeking to recover my roots, which were severed by migration…
Translated from Italian by Barbara Ofosu-Somuah