Monthly Archives: November 2013

Italian short stories: A pee in Paris

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UNiTE through literature

Every month or so, I’ll be publishing the English translations of  Italian short stories that I’ve come across and liked.

I read Pipi’ a Paris by Carmen Vella a few months ago, but today being the International Day for the elimination of Violence Against Women, it came back to me.

Orange Day

Orange Your World

Say No! UNiTE to end Violence against Women.

Instead of talking about physical violence, this short story made me think about the other forms of violence inflicted on women. And not always by men. Women are often just as guilty … for inflicting pain and humiliation on each other, and for failing to stick together.

The fact that this can happen right under our noses, not in distant countries or behind closed doors, is even more shocking.

The story’s called Pipi’ a Paris  in Italian, and I’ve named it “A Pee in Paris” in English.

It starts like this:

Rich people, nowadays, really tick me off.
They stand there with a Louis Vuitton bag on their shoulders or a Rolex glittering on their wrists, complaining that the crisis is really starting to bite this year. Thoroughbreds in Dior blinkers, that’s what they are.
Me, I’m a wedding planner. An apprentice wedding planner, to be more precise. I plan weddings for people who’ve got enough money not to have to do it themselves.
Like madam here: Luisella Berrini Della Porta. Beige coat with cropped sleeves and caked-on foundation in the same colour.
“Marta, how about going to the Jardin des Tuileries next? They’re just so fabulous, I’ve always thought, and I’d like them to be the setting for my photo shoot,” she asks me, tucking her blond highlights neatly behind her ears.
We’re at Ville Lumière, where she’ll be joining her long-term fiance’ Gianfranco Magri in holy matrimony, after almost 10 years together. The hustle and bustle of shopping on the Champs-Élysées must be making her feel hot, as her upper lip is beaded with sweat.

Read more in English

Read the original Italian.

Luis Sepúlveda The Story of a cat and the mouse that became his friend

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Spanish, Italian..and the English??

Browsing the bookshelf in the newsagents the other day, a slim, orange book with a catching cover jumped out at me. That may have been because it was the only yellowy one in the lineup (fave colour) or because I’m feeling a bit more amenable towards cats at the moment, having just acquired a particularly fluffy feline friend of my own. Something drew me to it anyway, so I picked it up. And brought it home. Kind of the same thing that happened with the kitten.

Luis Sepúlveda The story of a cat and the mouse that became his friend

Luis Sepúlveda
The story of a cat and the mouse that became his friend

I know this is supposed to be a blog about Italian books, and the Chilean writer, film director, journalist and political activist “from the end of the world” writes in Spanish, but have a look at the title of today’s book: Storia di un gatto e del topo che divento’ suo amico.  It’s in Italian. Translated from the original Spanish.  The English version may be coming. Or it may not. Read on in if you’d like a sneak preview.  It really is a lovely story.

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Friendship: more than a word

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Following in the spirit of last week’s Secret Language series… today’s post has something to do with secrets as well, and since it’s Sunday, I thought I’d also relax with an lovely children’s picture book that I found in a bookshop in Pescara.

What is it? I wish I knew.

E' Una Parola Arianna Papini

E’ Una Parola
Arianna Papini

Ask an Italian a difficult question,  one of those one million dollar ones that are so tricky to find the right answer to, maybe a definition for something  that you just can’t put your finger on, and they will reply:

E’ una parola! 

Literally, this translates as “It’s a word” but what it actually means is:  I wish I knew!

It’s also the name of a beautiful book by Arianna Papini, published in Italian by Kalandraka.

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Multilingual Blogging Day 2013 – Secret Language Series 3

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Thanks for checking back in for Episode 3.

This post is going to discuss one of the secrets of translated fiction, the “to foreword or not to foreword” question; well, for two Pescara authors anyway: Paolo Di Vincenzo, who I’ve been chatting to in previous posts, and a new entry on this blog post, Marcello Nicodemo.   Marcello has already published four novels: Nel Fuoco (alla fine del sogno), Di li’ a poco sarebbe piovuto, Ferragosto in Famiglia, e Voci del Purgatorio which I’ll be covering in more detail in coming weeks.

But before I ask Paolo and Marcello how they feel about literature in translation, what about you?

I’ve just finished a webinar with Oliver Lawrence on how to translate for the travel and tourism industry, and the distinction he drew between the types of reader her translates for – travellers and tourists – made me think of the to foreword or not to foreword debate in translated fiction. When you read a book translated from another language and cultural context, are you looking for the authentic experience and want to find your way around the new context by yourself – so no foreword- or are you one of those people who gets the guidebook and studies it from cover to cover before setting off, like you would with a foreword?

In translated literature, as in world travel, some people prefer to go off the map, while others go for the risk reduction option, safe in the knowledge that there won’t be any surprises.

Tourist or traveller?

Tourist or traveller?

So, are you a tourist or a traveller when it comes to translated fiction?  Should cultural context be served up on a plate, or should the reader be allowed to explore it, completely off the map??

I asked both authors,  …in Italian.

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Multilingual Blogging Day 2013: Secret Language Series 2

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Thanks for checking back in for another instalment of the Secret Language Series for Multilingual Blogging Day 2013

Who dunnit? Not telling!!! 

To find out who got the gold in Il Mistero dell’Oro di Dongo, you’ll probably have to read the book, sorry! But in the meantime, I’ve become a bit of a sleuth myself, and managed to put my second language skills to good use, as I contacted the author, Paolo di Vincenzo, for a chat. 

Ci sono molto vantaggi di avere una seconda lingua, il primo ovviamente e’ poter leggere dove era e chi ha trovato l’Oro di Dongo! Mi dispiace, io non ve lo posso svelare (rovinerebbe la sorpresa, adesso che avete acquisto il libro!) ma ho pensato di mettere la mia seconda lingua e vostro disposizione, per riportare qualche notizia direttamente dal autore stesso, Paolo Di Vincenzo.

In verita’, avrei potuto fare a meno di tirare fuori quest’arma letale (il mio italiano!) perche’ anche Paolo ha una seconda lingua: inglese!

Pazienza, come dicono in Italia, la vita e’ bella e andiamo avanti cosi. 

Introducing Paolo Di Vincenzo

paolo di vincenzo

Paolo’s writing has a very journalistic feel to it, having worked in the news industry for more than 27 years.

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2013 Multilingual Blogging – Secret Language Series – 1

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Segreti, in un’altra lingua 

C’e’ un segreto da scoprire.. ed e’ grande, molto grande.  E con la mia seconda lingua, Italiano, vorrei cercare di entrare dove di solito non posso andare con l’inglese…in un  libro in italiano. Scritto da un autore di Pescara che ho conosciusto al recente Festival delle Letterature di Pescara.  Un libro che ha a che fare con un personaggio altrettanto grande della storia d’Italia… anzi due,  il fondatore del fascismo e dittatore italiano Benito Mussolino e Gabriele D’Annunzio, poeta e scrittore  Pescarese, nonche’ politico e giornalista.

Che c’entra l’uno con l’altro? E’ perche’ sono i personaggi principali di un romanzo giallo che porta il lettore in un viaggio alla conoscenza del Mistero dell’Oro di Dongo?

Andiamo a scoprire.  

Detective Denise Secret language series Looking at literature

Detective Denise
Secret language series
Looking at literature

Myth and mystery.. in another language

Well, this mystery that I’m going to try and solve with my super second language at the ready is so big,  it could change the course of European history as we know it.

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2013 Multilingual Blogging Day

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Speaking a second language… what’s that all about?

Today it’s about Multilingual Blogging, Internet Week Europe and highlighting the multilingual dimension of the web.

The rest of the time it’s normally just work for me, but for my 8-year old… it’s much, more more ……..

Compiti d'Italiano Testo Narrativo.  M. Di Nella, 8 anni

Compiti d’Italiano
Testo Narrativo.
M. Di Nella, 8 anni

Ooh, speaking English, my daughter’s first-second-first language (not sure, she’s bilingual) is like a secret language for her. That makes it sound quite magical (or cloak and dagger, depending on your point of view), but however you see it, the sense is definitely one of getting special entry to a world and to information that would otherwise be inaccessible. 

Speaking a second language, or reading a book in a translated language, opens up new worlds and makes you feel at home in strange lands. And it can set a child’s imagination on fire, as Philip Pullman states in the foreword to Outside In’sChildren’s Books in Translation” publication and as my daughter told her teacher in last night’s homework. She feels like she has special powers, she feels special, that’s certainly got to rate high on the what-to-give-your-child for Christmas list! A second language.

Chiedere …. sempre in incognito

Allora, cogliendo lo spirito da detective di mia figlia, usero’ la mia seconda lingua,  italiano, per indagare un po’ sulla letteratura e vedere quello che scopro.

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Like history? No. Well the Mussolini mystery’s for you.

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Who likes history? Not me. 

I must admit.. I’ve always found history a bit of a mystery. It’s not that I haven’t tried. I once bought one of those ” History of Everything For Dummies” books in an attempt to get some big dates and important people into my head. But nothing. It just doesn’t work, books full of facts aren’t for me.  Nothing sticks. I was beginning to wonder if I was going about it the wrong way.
I was.
A few years later I stumbled on the historical novel and the penny dropped.   Real places and real people, all knitted together into a made-up story. That was the glue I needed to make it all stick. Maybe there was hope after all.

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Acqua Dolce – a clean&contemporary fairy-tale for young solo readers

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ACQUA DOLCE by Andrea Bouchard, published in the Italian by Adriano Salani Editore.

ACQUA DOLCE … the water baby, is a heart-warming and magically realistic tale about a girl born in the magical waters of an enchanted island in an exotic, faraway land when her father and pregnant mother jump out of a plane into the bewitching waters below. True to the tradition of tragicomic opening scenes, the mum’s parachute doesn’t open leaving her hurtling – tummy and all – towards the sea, and magically, on landing she finds that the sea is not salty, it is fresh water. Ergo Acqua Dolce, the beautiful, blue-eyed water baby, born – as if by miracle – in the fresh water.

Acqua Dolce  by Andrea Bouchard

Acqua Dolce
by Andrea Bouchard

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A touching tale about a boy, his grandfather and a cherry tree

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In my previous  post, I wrote about Il Baffo del Diavolo by Sergio Marciani, a story of hidden forces – the devil in disguise – pulling the strings of society and the administration of local government in a small corner of Abruzzo. From a light-hearted opening featuring children’s games and storytelling around an old oak tree, the tree itself becomes a symbol of something more sinister. Chopped down to serve the wily workings of political minds, or perhaps as the author suggests, the evil intentions of darker forces, the fate of the tree reflects the illness affecting society at large.

mio_nonno_era_un_ciliegioBut in keeping with the yin and yang approach to life and literature that I love so much, I like to think that for every dark force we encounter, if you keep looking there’ll be happier times just round the corner. So after I read about Sergio Marciani’s tree falling prey to the Prince of Darkness in Il Baffo Del Diavolo, I immediately thought about another story – Angela Nanetti’s Il Mio Nonno era Un Ciliegio – a children’s story by the Pescara-based author in which a tree brings joy and light into a little boy’s life.
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