Puglia is a land rich in variety and contradictions. The modern and the ancient – layer upon layer of history’s traces in the landscape and the people – coexist and sometimes clash. The region’s contemporary literary landscape is therefore unsurprisingly diverse. Several authors born in Puglia live elsewhere and vice versa. In some of their novels, the region is a character in its own right, while in others it’s the point of departure in stories of migration to northern Italy and beyond. Genres and themes vary widely, too, ranging from gritty stories of criminality and political corruption to magical realism. Anglophone readers will already be familiar with some of these writers, including Gianrico Carofiglio, Donato Carrisi, Giancarlo De Cataldo, Francesco Dimitri and Nicola Lagioia.
Another author whose work I would love to see available in English is Raffaele Nigro. Born in Basilicata, he has lived and worked in Puglia most of his life. His novels, which have been awarded major literary prizes, fuse reality and dream. They dive deep into the waters of southern Italian – and more generally Mediterranean – culture and history, and Puglia features in several of them. Nigro’s highly distinctive, entrancing voice and stylistic inventiveness are guaranteed to keep you gripped from start to finish.
By Valeria Vescina
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