THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Alex Valente. LA FURIA (‘The Fury’) by Alessandra Carnaroli

I first encountered Alessandra Carnaroli as a poet. As did most Italian readers. The novel I want to spotlight for this month’s Italianist is her first full prose publication. To call it fully prose, however, is not entirely correct. Carnaroli is a fast writer, a furious writer, a writer who seems to have her pulse on the language of the internet and media. Her writing is incessant, implacable, and cutting at every turn; she is ruthless with her subject matter and perfectly embodies the anger, the rage, the violence of our basest impulses revealed as we write, comment, let our thoughts loose in online spaces.

La furia (‘The fury’) confirms all of this. Starting from the title, which contains at least four different meanings in a single word: furia is, in its strongest meaning, also the Italian word for rage, for fury, and for Fury, the Roman mythological creature – Erinyes in the Greek version – who bring vengeance upon those who hurt family; furia also means, in its weaker connotation, ‘hurry’, the state of being and doing where you inevitably forget something; and last but not least, Furia was the name of the black horse from the 60s TV programme ‘Brave Stallion’, which aired in Italy in the 70s and whose theme song opens each section of the book (see my translations below):

i am the fury of the west and i only drink coffee so i can keep my fur as black as i can i used to sing as a little girl i would smack my bum and fly off like a rocket

(p. 7)

let me ride on you, i would ride you for more than an hour i am the sheriff and the leader of the mohicans

(p. 105)

but three can fit in fury

(p. 137)

The lyrics slightly differ from the original, most likely intentionally once we explore the voices of the women arranged through the text. Misspellings are frequent, misunderstandings pervasive, and misinformation rampant.

There is no single story running through the book. There are instead many voices, all women, at different ages, some connected to each other by family ties, who tell the story of a country, of a place, of a people left to themselves, and one recurring character, at least by name: Miranda. Italian readers will recognise in these women’s voices many of the online communities that formed before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Other countries may have developed similar groups, in different fashions, but all are still recognisable. There are conspiracy theorists, new parents (new mothers especially), co-habiting lovers, newlyweds, one particularly ruthless and visceral section about the mother of a man convicted of sexual assault. Some parts read as a series of Facebook posts, some are a single update, some are interior monologues, some are thoughts that should have been kept inside, or shared with loved ones before it was too late. There is no judgement from Carnaroli. She is observing, mimicking, inhabiting the language of those left behind and left on the outside of proper, supportive community; women who felt abandoned by support networks, by governments, by family members, by their own children or spouses; women trying to find a new way to reconcile online with offline lives, and more often than not failing. One example from among the 26 possible voices, in my translation below:

i took this photo at the seaside i think it looks good i want to share it with you it’s very sixties me in the water up to my shins with my hands behind my head the two piece my smooth armpits fresh from the salon
my youngest took the photo she said mummy move around let’s take one where you jump smile splash water up with your feet she’s my personal photographer she’s my consultant

i have been feeling a lot better in agreement with myself recently
i had a lot of difficulties during my forties my changing body i gained a few pounds the wrinkles
at one point i no longer recognised myself i couldn’t find a meeting point even with my husband we fought all the time i dunno i didn’t feel like he accepted me i thought he wasn’t attracted physically but i just didn’t like myself
[…]
fortunately it’s different now i’ve lost weight i found some confidence back it was just a moment
i opened an instagram account
i take selfies with my phone up high a trick to hide my double chin i post stories so they disappear so i don’t have regrets
i have 536 followers
many of my daughter’s male friends heart me
some comment fire fire bomb
they’re just boys being boys i’m not embarrassed
there’s like thirty years between us i could be their mother

Carnaroli digs into the viscera of the internet, the public space that everyone shared during the peak of the pandemic (especially in Italy) – and not that deep either – to bring back a poignant reflection on who we are, who we can become, who we might already be. Her language is mostly without punctuation or capitalisation, and her prose cribs from her poetry. This is an uncomfortable, jagged book, a book with no resolution or outcome, a snapshot of a series of defining moments in recent history, but also in many people’s lives; not just a book about the pandemic, but one of how people seek out community in times of loneliness, often only to become even lonelier in response, spiralling into darker places still.


By Alex Valente

LA FURIA

(‘The fury’)

by Alessandra Carnaroli

Published in Italian by Solferino (2023)

Translations from Italian by Alex Valente


Alessandra Carnaroli was born in 1979. She is the author of several poetry collections, including una silloge in 1° non singolo (sette poeti italiani), Elsamatta, Poesie con katana. Her most recent collection is 50 tentati suicidi più 50 oggetti contundenti (Einaudi, 2021; 50 attempted suicides plus 50 blunt objects). La furia is her first prose novel.


Alex Valente (he/him) is a white European currently living on xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, and səlilwətaɬ land. He is a literary translator from Italian into English, though he also dabbles with French and RPGs, and is co-editor of The Norwich Radical. His work has been published in NYT Magazine, The Massachusetts Review, The Short Story Project, and PEN Transmissions.


Read previous posts in The Italianist series:

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Alex Valente. SENZA RESPIRO (‘Breathless’) by Raffaella Mottana

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Alex Valente. LA GIOIA AVENIRE (‘Future joy’) by Stella Poli

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Alex Valente. PRIMA CHE CHIUDIATE GLI OCCHI (‘Before you close our eyes’) by Morena Pedriali Errani

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Clarissa Botsford. THE COLOUR LINE by Igiaba Scego – Igiaba Scego in conversation with Clarissa Botsford

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Alex Valente. TRE CIOTOLE (‘Three bowls’) by Michela Murgia

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Alex Valente. LA TRAMA ALTERNATIVA (‘The alternarive plot’) by Giusi Palomba

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Alex Valente. LA POESIA È UN UNICORNO (‘Poetry is a unicorn’) by Francesca Genti

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Alex Valente. IO SARÒ IL ROVO (I will be the thorn) by Francesca Matteoni

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Alex Valente. INSORGIAMO (Rise up) by Collettivo di fabbrica GKN

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Alex Valente. GLI AMANTI SOMMERSI (The Sunken Lovers) by Mattia Conti

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Alex Valente. TUTTA INTERA (In One Piece) by Espérance Hakuzwimana

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Alex Valente. RABBIA PROTEGGIMI (Anger Protect Me) by Edgarda Marcucci

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Alex Valente. LGBTQIA+ – MANTENERE LA COMPESSITÀ (LGBTQIA+ – Keep it complex) by Antonia Caruso

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Alex Valente. LA NOTTE SI AVVICINA (Night Is Closing In) by Loredana Lipperini

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Alex Valente. L’UNICA PERSONA NERA NELLA STANZA (The Only Black Person in the Room) by Nadeesha Uyangoda

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. LA NON MAMMA (The Non-Mum) by Susanna Tartaro

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. LA COSA PIÙ DOLCE (The Sweetest Thing) by Mary Tibaldi Chiesa

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregorand and Lori Hetherington. IL GIARDINO DEI FIORI DI PIETRA (A Garden of Stone Flowers) by Valerio Luigi Beretta

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. IL GIARDINO INCANTATO (The Enchanted Garden) by Carlo Grande

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. I TACCHINI NON RINGRAZIANO (Turkeys Don’t Give Thanks) by Andrea Camilleri

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. CONVERSAZIONE A QUATTRO

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. CORRERE DAVANTI ALLA BELLEZZA (Running Ahead of Beauty) by Luigi Spagnol

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. LE MUSE NASCOSTE (Hidden Muses) by Lauretta Colonnelli

THE ITALIANIST: From STORIA DI LUIS SEPÚLVEDA E DEL SUO GATTO ZORBA by Ilide Carmignani, translated by Katherine Gregor

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. STORIA DI LUIS SEPÚLVEDA E DEL SUO GATTO ZORBA (The Story of Luis Sepúlveda and his Cat Zorba) by Ilide Carmignani

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. One year on

THE ITALIANIST: THE DWARVES’ MARKET and WITCHES’ POLENTA as told by Mary Tibaldi Chiesa, translated by Katherine Gregor

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. And what of Italian Fairy-Tales?

THE ITALIANIST: From QUEL TIPO DI DONNA by Valeria Parrella, translated by Katherine Gregor

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. QUEL TIPO DI DONNA (That Kind of Woman) by Valeria Parrella

THE ITALIANIST: From QUEL TIPO DI DONNA by Valeria Parrella, translated by Katherine Gregor

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. QUEL TIPO DI DONNA (That Kind of Woman) by Valeria Parrella

THE ITALIANIST: From FIORE DI ROCCIA by Ilaria Tuti translated by Katherine Gregor

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. FIORE DI ROCCIA (Flower of the Rocks) by Ilaria Tuti

THE ITALIANIST: From L’ARTE SCONOSCIUTA DEL VOLO by Enrico Fovanna, translated by Katherine Gregor

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. L’ARTE SCONOSCIUTA DEL VOLO (The Unknown Art of Flying) by Enrico Fovanna

THE ITALIANIST: From IL GIOCO DI SANTA OCA by Laura Parianitranslated by Katherine Gregor

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. IL GIOCO DI SANTA OCA (The Game of the Holy Goose) by Laura Pariani

THE ITALIANIST: From PONTI NON MURI by Giancarlo Ascari & Pia Valentinis, translated by Katherine Gregor

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. PONTI NON MURI (Bridges, Not Walls) by Giancarlo Ascari & Pia Valentinis

THE ITALIANIST: From ANDRÀ TUTTO BENE, translated by Katherine Gregor

THE ITALIANIST: Riveting Italian Books You Need to Know About by Katherine Gregor. ANDRÀ TUTTO BENE (All Shall Be Well), Writers at the Time of the Quarantine

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