"My translation of a cross-cultural existence made my experience of silence inevitably one of continuous openings: flow and breaks suggesting horizons beyond the narrow definitions we assume in identity, our histories, our language."
Wallis Wilde-Menozzi, Seminary Bookstore Blog
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, April, 2014, paperback and e-book
This captivating narrative, enriched by more than one hundred photos, offers a striking nonfiction mosaic of a country and a writer. Drawing on personal memories about different parts of Italy and aspects of its long culture, the author suggests how images of country, self, and time are pictures made from pieces.
The story begins in the dark hours before the dawn of the summer solstice. It is 1994, Florence, where a ceremony in the cathedral to commemorate Paolo Toscanelli, an astronomer in the fifteenth century, will take place. His solstice measurement, part of the Church’s effort to fix a universal date for Easter, has scarcely deviated, but the Renaissance jewel of a city, explored by myriad artists and writers, is no longer as easily plotted. Perhaps this is why the mood of this fascinating and moving novel seems suspended, as if the characters themselves have scarcely any idea of what is next.
For those who read in Italian, this collection of essays has been very well received and introduces the author’s work to non-English readers. The essays first appeared in journals such as Best Spiritual Writing, Kenyon Review, Agni, Southwest Review, The Literary Review, Tel Aviv Review, Notre Dame Review. The book covers literary subjects--Primo Levi, Natalia Ginzburg, Aleksandr Kushner, Miroslav Holub, Iris Origo, Daniel Berrigan--as well as more personal explorations of music, political protest and experiences of transformation brought about by butterflies and later, a fainting spell that woke the author up to Dante. In Italian.