Yesterday evening saw the award ceremony, in the beautiful Ninfeo of the Villa Giulia in Rome, of the very prestigious Premio Strega, one of the most important Italian literary prizes. The prize is sponsored by the company making the Strega liqueur but was established in 1947 by Goffredo and Maria Bellonci whose literary salon included the founder of the Strega company.
The winner for 2011 is Edoardo Nesi, with Storia della mia Gente (Bompiani), a book that crosses the line between fiction and non-fiction and is about social change in the Italian provinces, from a time when money was easy to make and was spent mainly in luxury items, to a global economy where China threatens the current near-effortless lifestyle.
Other books in the final shortlist were:
L’energia del vuoto (Guanda) by Bruno Arpaia, a “popular science” novel about a UN diplomat whose wife, a CERN physicist, has mysteriously disappeared.
Ternitti (Mondadori) by Mario Desiati, an account through the eyes of the daughter of one of the workers, of the “Eternit” factory and the damages caused to workers and their families by asbestos used to make roof coverings.
La vita accanto (Einaudi) by Mariapia Veladiano, a story about an ugly girl, love and hate, human nature, talent and music.
La scoperta del mondo (Nottetempo) by Luciana Castellina, the personal diary of a famous communist activist, journalist and writer between the ages of 14 and 18, corresponding to 1943 and 1948, crucial years for both the country her own personal development.
Information about all the books in the longlist can be found here (in Italian).