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14 January 2024

Interview with Andrea Palombi and Giulia Caminito (Nutrimenti publishing house)

Author:
Laura Pugno

This new chapter of the newitalianbooks series of interviews with editorial directors, editors and publishers of Italian publishing houses continues with the publishing house Nutrimenti, and the two voices of Andrea Palombi, Editorial Director and President of ADEI – Associazione degli Editori Indipendenti (Association of Independent Publishers), and Giulia Caminito, an internationally renowned author, who with Alessandro Mari and Paolo Di Paolo edits the new fiction series “Greenwich Extra”.

 

As usual, the question is:

“How would you describe Nutrimenti‘s Italian fiction to readers abroad? What are its characteristics and strengths? Which bets, literary and otherwise, have worked best in foreign countries and, in your opinion, why?”

 

Andrea Palombi.

The Italian fiction of Nutrimenti, a publishing house founded in Rome in 2001, has always been characterised by the ambition of responding to two objectives: to give a voice to new, young Italian authors and to give it back to authors who, in our opinion, represented significant milestones in Italian literature, but were then too soon forgotten.

More generally, the selection of authors and works to be published has always been marked by an attempt to avoid retracing roads already known and taken for granted, but to always seek quality combined with innovation, and linguistic and structural creativity.

In this sense, it is worth mentioning, for example, Malacrianza, by Giovanni Greco, a narrative debut that reached the Strega Prize selection in 2012, but also won the Calvino Prize, and was a finalist in the Viareggio Prize, the Palmi Prize and the Asti d’appello Prize. It recounted, in a far from conventional way, the reality of lost childhood around the world.

Between 2011 and 2013, Nutrimenti reintroduced an author, Francesco Permunian, who, after a brilliant debut, seemed to have been partly forgotten. With La casa del sollievo mentale  and Il gabinetto del dottor Kafka (winner of the Volponi Prize, finalist at the Bergamo Prize), Permunian came back to the attention of Italian critics, so much so that he was included in the anthology I Narratori degli anni zero, edited by Andrea Cortellessa, which gathered the most significant voices of contemporary Italian fiction. In the same year, 2013, Nutrimenti also won the Premio Bagutta opera prima with Bert e il mago, by Fabrizio Pasanisi, a brilliant evocation of the parallel paths of Bertolt Brecht and Thomas Mann, who were both forced to flee Nazi Germany in the space of a few weeks. Also in 2013, Nutrimenti published Giovanni Cocco‘s first novel, La caduta, a polyphonic representation of the crisis of the West, a finalist for the Campiello Prize.

In 2014, another debut novel was published, Breve trattato sulle coincidenze (A Brief Treatise on Coincidences), which marked the launch of Domenico Dara on the Italian literary scene (winner of the Viadana Prize, Corrado Alvaro Prize, Città di Como Prize, Palmi Prize), his writing mixing Calabrian dialect and sophisticated language. A success that continued with the second title by the same author, Appunti di meccanica celeste (2016, Stresa Prize, Vincenzo Padula Prize). Both titles, the rights to which were sold in several countries, were also exceptionally successful in Germany.

In 2015, Nutrimenti republished a title that was,  in our opinion, very significant, already having been published by a major publisher, but absent from bookshops for some time, Le variazioni Reinach by Filippo Tuena, a new edition of which is about to arrive in bookshops shortly. And in 2012, from the same author, Nutrimenti had published Stranieri alla terra.

2016 saw the debut of an older author, Ezio Sinigaglia, whose novel, Eclissi (Modus Legendi Prize winner, 2020), received considerable critical acclaim.

Authors who made their debut with Nutrimenti include Giacomo Verri, who with Partigiano inverno (2012) combined the only possible epic in Italy, that of the Resistance, with a language constantly ablaze with lexical inventions. An focus, that for the Resistance and in particular for the struggles in Valsesia, that we find again in a second title, more linked to current events, Un altro candore (2019), also translated in the Netherlands.

2020 was the year of another successful debut published by Nutrimenti, that of Daniela Gambaro with Dieci storie quasi vere, winner of the Campiello Opera Prima prize. While in 2021 Nutrimenti marked the return to writing of Benedetta Palmieri who, after ten years of silence, came back to fiction with Emersione, subsequently a candidate for the Strega Prize. In 2022, Adrian Bravi also arrived at Nutrimenti, an author with a long publishing history behind him who, with Verde Eldorado, once again proposed a brilliant reflection on those different from us, the roots of our culture and language. Adelaida, by the same author, is coming out in February 2024, as part of a new series dedicated to Italian fiction, “Greenwich Extra”, which will see the light with the new year and will be edited by a collective of editors formed by Giulia Caminito, Paolo Di Paolo and Alessandro Mari. An important gamble for Nutrimenti, to try and explore new narrative opportunities, always under the banner of quality and innovation, through a scouting process resulting from a comparison between three well-known and appreciated authors.

 

It is now Giulia Caminito‘s turn to tell us something about the new “Greenwich Extra” series.

 

The “Greenwich Extra” series will bring together the works of Italian fiction from Nutrimenti starting in January 2024. It will be a series edited by two male and one female writers. Together with myself, there will be Paolo Di Paolo and Alessandro Mari, both established authors who have always been involved in the world of books and culture. Our idea is to join forces, tastes, and visions to search for novels or collections of short stories that manage to propose non-traditional readings, and which are, for this reason considered as extra, out of the ordinary. The first three titles we will publish represent the idea of the series well. We will start with Le ciclopi by Manuela Piemonte – her second work after her first with Rizzoli – a collection of short stories that tells of contemporary women forced by their precarious lives to always look at the world from a reduced and deficient perspective, as if it were impossible to use both eyes to face it; then there will be Adelaida by Adrian Bravi, a biographical novel dedicated to the figure – formidable and irreverent – of Adelaide Gigli, an Italian-Argentinian artist who lived through the years of militancy and political persecution during the dictatorships of the generals and who lost two children, kidnapped and murdered by the military; finally, March will see the arrival of Sangue masticato (Chewed Blood), the debut novel by Francesco Aloia – a very young author aged 25 – which recounts the figure of his grandfather, a shady man guilty of a double murder, who was, however, adored in the family, especially by the women. In recounting him, Aloia also tells his own story and the hardship of growing up in the shadow of an uncomfortable figure whose legacy he had to pick up. These three very different books embody our idea of fiction: always looking for different, lateral and unconventional perspectives to talk about the present and the past, through multifaceted figures of women and men.

Foreign audiences might be interested in the series precisely because of its desire not to follow the well-trodden path of contemporary Italian production, and in its attempt to find new voices – strong and sprightly – that are also able to juggle big themes and big questions.

© Roberto Campanaro

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