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What’s Italian? A Journey through 20th Century Italy with Antonio Romani (Sold Out)

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6 Sessions via Zoom Tuesdays, 6:00 pm EDT - 7:30 pm EDT February 23 to May 4, 2021

This reading group has reached its capacity. To join the waitlist, please email Allison Escoto at allison@centerforfiction.org.


Meeting Dates:
2/23, 3/9, 3/23, 4/6, 4/20, 5/4

What’s Italian? Take a journey through 20th century Italy by way of 12 great short stories, selected from The Penguin Book of Italian Short Stories edited by Jhumpa Lahiri. We’ll discuss two stories each session, discovering in them the spirit of their time.


  • Session I: Giovanni Verga, “Picturesque Lives”
    Luigi Pirandello, “The Trap”
    Searching for reality and finding uncertainties at the dawn of political unification.
  • Session II: Grazia Deledda, “The Hind”
    Antonio Delfini, “The Milliner”
    Regional and provincial life.
  • Session III: Carlo Emilio Gadda, “The Mother”
    Natalia Ginzburg, “The Husband”
    Truth and invention in family life.
  • Session IV: Beppe Fenoglio, “The Smell of Death”
    Anna Maria Ortese, “A Pair of Eyeglasses”
    The outsiders.
  • Session V: Primo Levi, “Quaestio de Centauris”
    Luciano Bianciardi, “The Streetwalker”
    The unbearable weight of rationality.
  • Session VI: Italo Calvino, “Dialogue with a Tortoise”
    Antonio Tabucchi, “Against Time”
    It’s all about perception.
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Led by

  • Romani photo (2)

    Antonio Romani

    Antonio Romani

    Antonio Romani is an essayist and translator whose writings and co-translations have appeared in A Public Space, AGNI, the Common, Tin House, the Southampton Review, and other literary journals. His essay on Elena Ferrante was cited as Notable in Best American Essays 2016. His co-translation (with Martha Cooley) of Antonio Tabucchi’s Time Ages in a Hurry appeared in 2015. Since 2014, he has led a What’s Italian? reading group at the Center.