A prolific author, journalist and academic, born in Rome to Somali parents, Igiaba Scego writes about blackness, history, literature, art and Italy. When asked by the publishing house Effeque to curate an anthology on migration for its series Rondini, Igiaba came up with an original idea: a collective project that tackles converging issues of race and gender.
Published in Italy in 2019, Future. Il domani narrato dalle voci di oggi, is the first anthology by black Italian women and contributes to the Italian literary panorama by shedding new light on a diverse contemporary society that is rapidly and constantly evolving. The eleven authors, different in age, origins and cultural backgrounds, use their writing, not easily classifiable into a single genre, to reflect collectively upon the historical and intergenerational experiences of racism and sexism in Italian society.
As Scego explains in her introduction, the anthology is a contemporary J’accuse aimed at Italy’s unwillingness to acknowledge its diversity and the racial legacies of colonialism. In fact, the imperialist aspirations of Italian fascism in Ethiopia, Somalia, Libya, Egypt, Eritrea and Tunisia have shaped contemporary Italian society, even though Italy’s colonial past is almost absent from public debate and rarely challenged.
Marie Moïse opens the collection with ‘Abbiamo pianto un fiume di risate’ (‘We Cried a Riverof Laughter’):
‘I spent my youth seeking to recover my roots, which were severed by migration from one shore of the Atlantic to the other – from Haiti to Italy. I investigated, interrogated, and sought to understand. From the time of my birth, I have suffered a strange nostalgia for the pain of a journey I have never taken. It seems like my family’s psyches were divided in the course of that journey, with half their minds here and the other half there.’
(Translation by Barbara Ofosu-Somuah)
Throughout the anthology we are taken on a journey, travelling back and forth, crossing barriers of space and time, finally landing in a bleak future without diversity, in Espérance Hakuzwimana Ripanti’s story.
All the authors share the experience of living between two cultures and they narrate a rich tapestry of life. Past accounts of colonisation (as in ‘There’s No Hope Whatsoever’ by Angelica Pesarini) and more recent acts of violence erupt through the various narratives, exposing a racism that is systemic and institutional in Italy. The stories by the younger authors, meanwhile, (‘My Name’ by Djarah Kan, ‘Nassan Tenga’ by Laeticia Ouedraogo, and ‘The Marathon Continues’, by Addes Tesfamariam) reveal the point of view of those born in Italy to migrant parents who feel Italian but still experience discrimination.
Overall, the anthology beautifully challenges the preconception of a white Italian identity by offering the reader a diversity of voices. It is unmissable for all those wanting to fully understand the ways that modern Italy is changing.
Reviewed by Barbara Ricci
The authors included in the anthology are: Leila El Houssi, Lucia Ghebreghiorges, Espérance Hakuzwimana Ripanti, Alesa Herero, Djarah Kan, Ndack Mbaye, Marie Moïse, Laetitia Ouedraogo, Angelica Pesarini, Addes Tesfamariam, Wii.
FUTURE. IL DOMANI NARRATO DALLE VOCI DI OGGI
(‘Futures: Tomorrow Narrated by the Voices of Today’)
edited by Igiaba Scego
Published by Effequ (2019)
Soon to appear in translation by Barbara Ofosu-Somuah
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Barbara Ricci is Italian and lives in Bristol, where she is a translator and interpreter. She has worked as an audiovisual translator and editor for TV, cinema and international film festivals (Venice, Cannes and Locarno), and as a translator of mainly non-fiction and children’s literature.