The Premio Strega

September 2, 2013 § 5 Comments

Last week or so, I had an email conversation with the squirrel mistress about Elsa Morante.  She asked me if I had read her Premio Strega-winning 1957 novel, L’isola di Arturo.  I said no, although I did search my Italian books and saw that I had a copy of her famous 1974 novel, La Storia (History).  Then that lead to me being me and deciding that I would have to try harder to read Italian books, so I have embarked on another Quixotic journey and am going to try to read (in Italian, whenever possible) as many of the Premio Strega (Italy’s most prestigious literary prize) winners as I can over the next few years.  Below is the list of the winners since the award’s inception in 1947.  I have read a grand total of one (in both Italian and English) and have purchased another four (including three e-books).  No promises on reviews, but I will update this list with books that I will purchase/read as I acquire more of these books:

<!– /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:"MS 明朝"; panose-1:0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0; mso-font-charset:128; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-format:other; mso-font-pitch:fixed; mso-font-signature:1 134676480 16 0 131072 0;} @font-face {font-family:"MS 明朝"; panose-1:0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0; mso-font-charset:128; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-format:other; mso-font-pitch:fixed; mso-font-signature:1 134676480 16 0 131072 0;} @font-face {font-family:Cambria; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:3 0 0 0 1 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} .MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} @page WordSection1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.WordSection1 {page:WordSection1;}

–>

    1947 – Ennio Flaiano, Tempo di uccidere
    1948 – Vincenzo Cardarelli, Villa Tarantola
    1949 – Giambattista Angioletti, La memoria
    1950 – Cesare Pavese, La bella estate
    1951 – Corrado Alvaro, Quasi una vita
    1952 – Alberto Moravia, I racconti
    1953 – Massimo Bontempelli, L’amante fedele
    1954 – Mario Soldati, Lettere da Capri
    1955 – Giovanni Comisso, Un gatto attraversa la strada
    1956 – Giorgio Bassani, Cinque storie ferraresi
    1957 – Elsa Morante, L’isola di Arturo
    1958 – Dino Buzzati, Sessanta racconti
    1959 – Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, Il gattopardo
    1960 – Carlo Cassola, La ragazza di Bube
    1961 – Raffaele La Capria, Ferito a morte
    1962 – Mario Tobino, Il clandestino
    1963 – Natalia Ginzburg, Lessico famigliare
    1964 – Giovanni Arpino, L’ombra delle colline
    1965 – Paolo Volponi, La macchina mondiale
    1966 – Michele Prisco, Una spirale di nebbia
    1967 – Anna Maria Ortese, Poveri e semplici
    1968 – Alberto Bevilacqua, L’occhio del gatto
    1969 – Lalla Romano, Le parole tra noi leggere
    1970 – Guido Piovene, Le stelle fredde
    1971 – Raffaello Brignetti, La spiaggia d’oro
    1972 – Giuseppe Dessì, Paese d’ombre
    1973 – Manlio Cancogni, Allegri, gioventù
    1974 – Guglielmo Petroni, La morte del fiume
    1975 – Tommaso Landolfi, A caso
    1976 – Fausta Cialente, Le quattro ragazze Wieselberger
    1977 – Fulvio Tomizza, La miglior vita
    1978 – Ferdinando Camon, Un altare per la madre
    1979 – Primo Levi, La chiave a stella
    1980 – Vittorio Gorresio, La vita ingenua
    1981 – Umberto Eco, Il nome della rosa
    1982 – Goffredo Parise, Il sillabario n.2
    1983 – Mario Pomilio, Il Natale del 1833
    1984 – Pietro Citati, Tolstoj
    1985 – Carlo Sgorlon, L’armata dei fiumi perduti
    1986 – Maria Bellonci, Rinascimento privato
    1987 – Stanislao Nievo, Le isole del paradiso
    1988 – Gesualdo Bufalino, Le menzogne della notte
    1989 – Giuseppe Pontiggia, La grande sera
    1990 – Sebastiano Vassalli, La chimera
    1991 – Paolo Volponi, La strada per Roma
    1992 – Vincenzo Consolo, Nottetempo, casa per casa
    1993 – Domenico Rea, Ninfa plebea
    1994 – Giorgio Montefoschi, La casa del padre
    1995 – Maria Teresa Di Lascia, Passaggio in ombra
    1996 – Alessandro Barbero, Bella vita e guerre altrui di Mr. Pyle, ‘gentiluomo’
    1997 – Claudio Magris, Microcosmi
    1998 – Enzo Siciliano, I bei momenti
    1999 – Dacia Maraini, Buio
    2000 – Ernesto Ferrero, N.
    2001 – Domenico Starnone, Via Gemito
    2002 – Margaret Mazzantini, Non ti muovere
    2003 – Melania G. Mazzucco, Vita
    2004 – Ugo Riccarelli, Il dolore perfetto
    2005 – Maurizio Maggiani, Il viaggiatore notturno
    2006 – Sandro Veronesi, Caos calmo
    2007 – Niccolò Ammaniti, Come Dio comanda
    2008 – Paolo Giordano, La solitudine dei numeri primi
    2009 – Tiziano Scarpa, Stabat mater
    2010 – Antonio Pennacchi, Canale Mussolini
    2011 – Edoardo Nesi, Storia della mia gente
    2012 – Alessandro Piperno, Inseparabili
    2013 – Walter Siti, Resistere non serve a niente

§ 5 Responses to The Premio Strega

  • marco says:

    Today the Premio Strega is a travesty of its former self. The major publishers move a large number of votes and de facto monopolize the prize. Seven of the last ten prizes went to the Mondadori/Einaudi group (Berlusconi) and oly three Publishers have won the Prize in the last 20 years: Mondadori/Einaudi, Feltrinelli, Rcs (Rizzoli/Bompiani).Never mind that often the most exciting, and critically acclaimed works come from small presses.Worse, the majors tend to push books which they think will maximize their chances with the General Public – therefore nothing too complicated, "modernist" "avant-garde" or challenging in any way.But for a few votes last year the prize would have gone to Gianrico Carofiglio – the Italian John Grisham. Good books by smaller presses do find a place in the shortlist, but have no chance of winning. Occasionally, like this year, a big name with both literary and "commercial" potential (Magris, Siti) or a good book may still win – but quality is never the main preoccupation of the award.In fact a group of more than 200 critics has created an alternative prize, with votations and rankings every three months and a symbolic prize at the end of the year for the most voted in the various categories. Horribly flawed as their system is, it's still a more reliable source than the Strega.http://www.pordenonelegge.it/it/tuttolanno/le_classifiche.htmlAmong recent books I'd recommend this one: http://www.einaudi.it/libri/libro/michele-mari/di-bestia-in-bestia/978880621533

  • Larry Nolen says:

    Interesting. Had no idea this had become so politicized. Will keep this in mind when I sample some of the more recent works. But the older works are mostly decent, right? Similar to how the Hugo's used to be viewed compared to today?

  • marco says:

    Up to the early 90s the quality is mostly good – in hindsight, however, it seems often conservative in its choices, going more for the established values rather than for the new, different or difficult to categorize. For example, it has managed to miss works and authors which are now firmly entrenched in the Italian XXth Century Canon (Manganelli, Gadda, Calvino, Pasolini) while others (Ortese, Landolfi) are only included thanks to minor, late-career works.

  • Larry Nolen says:

    Sounds like the National Book Award or the Booker Prize in its conservatism, then. The 1999 winner, Buio, was decent, but not a mind-blowing work. Sadly, that all too often is the case with any lit award these days.

  • Anonymous says:

    Does anyone know the plot/story of Villa Tarantola, the 1948 prize winner by Cardarelli?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading The Premio Strega at Vaguely Borgesian.

meta

%d bloggers like this: