Italy in books – Reading challenge 2011

Thanks to the Brighton Blogger (on Book after Book) for this great idea.  She has set out the details as follows:

The details of the challenge “ITALY IN BOOKS”

  • The challenge will run from January, 1st 2011 to December, 31st 2011.
  • The aim of the challenge is to read at least 12 books that are set in Italy. Whether written by Italian authors or not, it doesn’t matter. They don’t have to be set exclusively in Italy but this country needs to play a significant role in the book. The challenge can include non-fiction books about Italy. You can also review Italian learning books but this is limited to a maximum of two titles. See the section “Resources” below for some suggestions.
  • The challenge is open to bloggers and non bloggers alike.
  • There will be monthly prizes for participants.

I think it’s very easy to read the headlines about Italy and make a lot of assumptions about the political situation there, and, seen from the outside,  we tend to overlook the very real concerns expressed by many Italians.

This can be illustrated by a recent example.  A couple of weeks ago, Roberto Saviano (author of Gomorrah, and as a result of his outspokeness now on the Mafia hitlist) appeared on a new TV show Vieni via con me hosted by Fabio Fazio, a brilliant presenter.  The audience figures broke all records.  Why? Because, for once, the show actually provided top quality content – all too rare in a country where the media is largely controlled by Berlusconi.  One need only remember that Italy was put on the amber list for having “a partly free” press last year (Freedom House, May 2009) – this was widely reported in the press and also commented on in my blog.  But to return to Vieni via con me, there’s a good article here on the extraordinary viewing rates achieved by the show.

So please, sign up for the Reading Challenge here – bearing in mind, yes, that we all enjoy reading a little “escapist” fiction set in Italy, but that we also need to get up to speed on contemporary Italy and Italian society.

The problem here is also the age-old one of the availability of books in English translations.  I’ll do my best to make suggestions as well, and will blog about books that I have enjoyed or new books that I discover.

Thanks again, Brighton Blogger – roll on 1 January!

PS If other bloggers want to follow suit and join in the reading challenge, I get the impression from Brighton Blogger’s website that “the more, the merrier…”.