Last week, due to the amazing work of Marta Donzelli (editor at Donzelli editore who are publishing Strangers Things Happen and Magic for Beginners) and the US Ambassador’s office, Kelly was invited to read in Turin and Rome in Italy. It was a brilliant but molto rapido week. We took the train down to Venice (a beautiful and surreal consensual illusion between tourists and the small permanent population); up to Turin (cars! arcades! book shops!); and then seven hours back to Rome (a city beyond parenthetical comments).Kelly read in Turin — the World Book Capital from April ’06 to April ’07. She was introduced and translated by sarcastic artistic bon vivant Luca Scarlini, one of the organizers of the Turin Book Festival and the Book Capital, who travels so much that his studio in Florence (where he keeps 35,000+ books) is the closest thing he has to a home. (Not that he wants one. “It’s too boring to be trapped in the one place all the time!”)
Piu Libre, Piu Liberi in Rome is nominally the Italian “Small Press Fair.” But many of the preses there were akin to Donzelli who do 90 books a year and have (after ~15 years) about 1,000 titles in print. The fair was huge, packed, inspiring. Thousands of people thronged the floors of the exhibit halls and shopped for books, hundreds of authors were on hand — magnificent. The New York Small Press Center book fair last week was fun; this was tremendous. Kelly was interviewed on one of the national radio stations (with a simultaneous translator) along with Diana Evans (winner of the 2005 Orange Prize for New Writers). Then rushed off to a panel where she, her translator, Riccardo Duranti of the University of Rome, and Sara Antonelli (and Bruna, the amazing simultaneous translator) went at it again. Then there were a whole bunch of radio and TV interviews—all the while giving us a chance to see the Donzelli team in action at the fair. (Kelly’s book was popular but their new translation of the Arabian Nights, the first new one in many years, was getting a ton of publicity and selling like hotcakes).
Actually posted some pix (statues! pigeons!) and a quick interview with Marta about Italian publishing (now below).
We didn’t have enough time to do anything: we’ll have to go back. There’s supposed to be another big bookfair in summer in Rome….
— A short with Marta Donzelli — filmed in the basement of the expo center as it was the only relatively quiet spot: