front cover of Life, Brazen and Garish
Life, Brazen and Garish
A Tale of Three Women
Dacia Maraini
Rutgers University Press, 2024
Three generations of women live together under the same roof. Though they are united by blood, each of the Cascadei women has a very different personality and way of expressing herself. Teenage daughter Lori scribbles impulsively in her diary, so eager to speed off on her moped that she rarely bothers with punctuation. Mother Maria, a professional translator, writes detailed and observant letters yet doesn’t see what is happening right in front of her. And grandmother Gesuina, a former stage actress, speaks into an audio recorder, giving a provocative and brutally candid performance for an imagined audience that might never listen. 
Life, Brazen and Garish offers a fresh take on the epistolary novel, telling the story of a family through the fragmented and disparate perspectives of daughter, mother, and grandmother. Yet even as each woman endures her private struggles with love and betrayal, youth and maturity, knowledge and ignorance, reality and illusion, the Cascadeis forge a solidarity that transcends generations. In turns heartbreaking and laugh-out-loud funny, this novel is a triumph of narrative voice and literary style from one of Italy’s most renowned writers.

Questo libro è stato tradotto grazie a un contributo del Ministero degli Affari Esteri e della Cooperazione Internazionale italiano.
This book has been translated thanks to a contribution from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.


front cover of The Reprisal
The Reprisal
A Novel
Laudomia Bonanni
University of Chicago Press, 2013
In the bitterly cold winter of 1943, the Italian countryside is torn apart by violence as partisans wage a guerilla war against the occupying German army and their local fascist allies. In the midst of this conflict, a ragtag group of fascist supporters captures a woman in the late stages of pregnancy. Suspecting her of being in league with the partisans, they hastily put her on “trial” by improvising a war tribunal one night in the choir stalls of the abandoned monastery that serves as their hide-out. This sham court convicts the woman and sentences her to die—but not until her child has been born. When a young seminarian visits the monastery and tries to dissuade the fascist band from executing their sentence, the absurd tragedy of the woman’s fate is cast in stark relief. The child’s birth approaches, an unnerving anticipation unfolds, and tension mounts ominously among the characters and within their individual psyches.          

Based on a number of incidents that took place in Abruzzo during the war, Laudomia Bonanni’s compact and tragic novel explores the overwhelming conflicts between ideology and community, justice and vengeance. The story is embedded in the cruel reality of Italian fascism, but its themes of revenge, sacrifice, and violence emerge as universal, delivered in prose that is at once lyrical and brutal.
In her native Italy, Bonanni, a writer of journalism and critical prose as well as fiction, is hailed as one of the strongest proponents of post-war realism, and this is the first of her novels to be made available to Anglophone readers. Translators Susan Stewart and Sara Teardo render Bonanni’s singular style—both sparse and emotive, frank and poetic—into readable, evocative English.


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