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5 April 2023

Interview with Giovanni Francesio editorial manager for Italian fiction at Mondadori

Laura Pugno

As part of newitalianbooks‘ series of interviews with directors, editorial managers and editors-in-chief of Italian publishing houses, today we meet Giovanni Francesio, editorial manager for Italian fiction at Mondadori

We asked him the following questions:

How do you describe Mondadori’s books to readers abroad? What are their characteristics and strengths? What projects, whether literary or other genres, have been most successful abroad?


Giovanni Francesio:

 In 1915, the Latin motto “Semper et ulterius progredi” stood on the façade of the headquarters of the first publishing house founded by Arnoldo Mondadori. And still today, more than a century later, this motto defines our work at Mondadori, a publishing house that has never lied back looking at its many successes and always looked to the future. In the publishing industry, looking to the future is reflected in an assiduous search for new readers, new dimensions of the imagination to be explored through an editorial catalogue that is constantly innovative and at the same time wide-ranging, popular in the most noble sense of the word, never elitist or complacent. This search implies a constant effort to decode reality, its cultural, social and artistic dynamics, its perspectives and contradictions, aimed at interpreting, representing, and restoring  them through editorial work. 

In addition, we mustn’t forget that the core of our work has always been the book conceived as a product of craftmanship, at the service of this astonishing and unequalled technological object. In fact, editorial care is at the heart of our culture at Mondadori, which devotes an obsessive, inordinate amount of attention to all aspects of publishing, from the paper selection to packaging, from typefaces to covers, marketing, and communication. This propitious consort between the cultural and artisanal dimensions of the publisher’s work is precisely what has made Mondadori a major publishing house. This legacy continues and is reflected in our publishing output (I’ll only cover Italian fiction here), which is always in pursuit of excellence in all market sectors, from literary fiction to genre fiction, from the big bestsellers to first-time authors.


Literary fiction, in the broadest sense of the word, finds its place in the “Italian and Foreign Writers” collection, first created by Vittorio Sereni in 1968 and unanimously recognised as one of the most prestigious collections in Italian publishing in recent decades. The collection boasts a vast catalogue of names that left their mark on contemporary Italian literature and that have achieved and continue to achieve great critical and public recognition, both in Italy and abroad. The catalogue includes time-honoured authors who have become synonymous, in terms of Italian fiction, with XXI-century Mondadori (these include Carmine Abate, Luca Bianchini, Daria Bignardi, Teresa Ciabatti, Mauro Corona, Giuseppe Culicchia, Alessandro D’Avenia, Fabio Genovesi, Valerio Massimo Manfredi, Alessandro Piperno, the sadly departed Antonio Pennacchi, Tea Ranno, just to name a few) as well as many new faces, already known beyond Italian borders, who made their debut at Mondadori or chose to publish with us in recent years (Matteo B. Bianchi, Ilaria Bernardini, Alessandra Carati, Pino Cacucci, Giuseppe Catozzella, Benedetta Cibrario, Valentina D’Urbano, Giuliano Da Empoli, Giovanna Giordano, Mattia Insolia, Cinzia Leone, Stefano Massini, Daniele Mencarelli, Paolo Nori, Piersandro Pallavicini, Alessandro Perissinotto, Romana Petri, Raffaella Romagnolo, Alessio Torino, Rosa Ventrella, and more. We are pleased to take this opportunity to announce that in 2023, one year after his death, another internationally renowned writer, Valerio Evangelisti, will make his “debut” in the “Scrittori italiani e stranieri” (Italian and Foreign Writers) series, with a posthumous book dedicated to his long career, spanning from science fiction to fantasy and historical fiction.


As far as genre fiction is concerned, an important project we began in 2019 and continues to prove very successful, was the relaunch of the “Il Giallo Mondadori” collection: one of the oldest collections on the Italian publishing scene (it was first launched in 1929), but also the only series in the world to have given a name to an entire genre, i.e. crime fiction (“giallo” in Italian), for both literature and TV/cinema. There are many internationally renowned “crime writers” who have been published recently with great success (some with a single work, others with regularity): their novels are set all across Italy, from Mont Blanc to Sardinia, from Veneto to Emilia-Romagna, from Lombardy to Sicily, and paint a vivid and suggestive picture of the Italy of yesterday and today: Enrico Camanni, Andrea Camilleri (the revival of this series began with one of his titles, Km 123), Gianrico Carofiglio, Massimo Carlotto, Alfredo Colitto, Giancarlo De Cataldo, Carlo Lucarelli, Piergiorgio Pulixi, Marcello Simoni, Sara Vallefuoco, Valerio Varesi (known in France as “the Italian Simenon”), Nora Venturini.


In the last few years, the “narrative nonfiction” genre has also been rather successful, which in Italy has been well represented through Mondadori’s collection “Strade blu”, which includes Gomorra, Roberto Saviano‘s most successful work worldwide. This collection also includes  books by Simonetta Agnello Hornby (Siamo Palermo and La cuntintizza), a writer who has been translated across Europe, and two more recent Italian and international hits: The Match by Piero Trellini (translated in Europe and South America) and La mossa del matto by Alessandro Barbaglia, a book that was particularly well received France, sparking the interest of very special readers  such as Pierre Lemaitre and Daniel Pennac.


As you can see, there is no area of the collective imagination that Mondadori hasn’t reflected through its books. We are indeed proud of our mainstream calling and are always driven by the spirit of its founder: to further the promotion and dissemination of culture through books. This is probably the reason why the writers we mentioned, and all those we didn’t due to lack of  space, manage to strike a truly universal chord and bring together the sensibilities of readers from all over the world.