Image: Darrin Zammit Lupi, from “Isle Landers,” 2014, photograph. @ Darrin Zammit Lupi. Courtesy of the artist.
This month, we bring you literature on the theme of Italian migration across diverse genres and landscapes. The writers here—from Algeria, Germany, India, Albania, and beyond, all writing in Italian—grapple with the most important questions regarding migration in Italy: who is Italian, what is the Italian language, and who deserves to write in it? Indian–born writer Laila Wadia writes a letter to her newborn son, while Milanese journalist Gabriella Kuruvilla’s short story touches on the dynamics of motherhood and assimilation. Maaza Mengiste considers the role of identity in mourning the dead. Marco Truzzi dives into the daily life of a boy living in a Romani camp, while Sicilian playwright Lina Prosa’s Lampedusa Snow follows an African refugee in Italy’s Alpine north. Algerian–born Tahar Lamri blends strands from Italian, Arabic, German, and other Mediterranean cultures in his story of “an immobile traveler, eternally traveling” in present–day Italy. In poetry, German–born Eva Taylor considers the process of inhabiting a new land and a new language, Albanian–born Gëzim Hajdari explores transnational poetics, and Italian Giampiero Neri reflects on solitude and exile. Finally, journalist and literary critic Francesco Durante looks at migration from two angles: that of immigrant writers adopting Italian and that of native–born Italians who leave for other shores. We thank our guest editor, Alta L. Price. Our special feature presents literature translated from Yiddish, introduced by Sebastian Schulman.
There Is No Map: The New Italian(s)
Who is Italian, what is the Italian language, and who deserves to write in it?
He was fascinated with India: I represented its Italian branch, easily accessible.
The Act of Naming
How can we grieve for those we cannot identify?
Two Untitled Prose Poems
Exile is accompanied by the idea of solitude.
Listening to Silence
“I gallop in English, I am a towering dervish in Urdu, and Hindi is my Kama Sutra. I am still on all fours in Italian.”
From “Goldfish Don’t Live in Puddles”
“Trailers aren’t usually known to speak.”
Three Poems from “Tattoos”
on the atlas of my skin / your names
From “Lampedusa Snow”
I stand like an African at the door of an entrance / that doesn’t exist.
Cous Cous Klan
I leave to my parents their portable country, so magnificent in their memory and in the stories they tell.
I am leaving you Europe
Your ruins no longer enchant me.
Italy and the Literature of Immigration
Why has the memory of this body of literature been so appallingly suppressed in Italy?