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September 2016

There Is No Map: The New Italian(s)

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?


Book Reviews

“Limbo Beirut” by Hilal Chouman

Reviewed by Emily Lever

For six strangers, the brutality of May 2008 reawakens forgotten memories of the Lebanese Civil War.

“Me Against the World” by Kazufumi Shiraishi

Reviewed by Emily Lever

“Dying has never been our true suffering. All of our sufferings, in fact, have been born . . . from having to live in this mutable world.”

“The Invisibility Cloak” by Ge Fei

Reviewed by Kate Prengel

A likable loser tries to keep his head above the torrent of contemporary Beijing.

Recent Issues

Our Nueva York: Writing the City in Spanish

The Language of Identity: Kaaps Writing from South Africa

Voices on the Verge: Writing from Southeast Asian Creole Languages

The Slow Burn of Inner Chaos: Writing from Malaysia

Backstories: Afro-Italian Women Writers

The Queer Issue XII

Movement and Multiplicity: Writing from Mauritania

On the Edge: Writing from Iceland

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