The first two issues of Granta Italia (Work and Sex), have featured well known writers from the English language editions of the magazine including Salman Rushdie and Téa Obreht and Italian authors of renown including Giorgia Vasta and Walter Siti, alongside more up and coming talents. However, for their third issue, Granta Italia decided to feature previously unpublished writers, the result is Che Cosa Si Scrive Quando Si Scrive In Italia (What We Write About When We Write About Italy). Granta Italia editor Paolo Zaninoni spoke to online editor Ted Hodgkinson about the joys of uncovering new talents and why age doesn’t always matter when it comes to writing good prose.

TH: Is this new direction an attempt to uncover a fresh generation of Italian voices?

PZ: It most certainly is. There is an increasing amount of room for young authors in the Italian publishing scene, with regular reviews of first time writers in the newspapers. However, we wanted to take this one step further and focus solely on this group of writers. In doing so we wanted to sound out new territory.

You’ve collaborated with a number of prizes and writing schools in a bid to help to broaden your search. Were you encouraged by what you found and do you think that Italy has a vibrant young reading and writing culture?

We were surprised by how mature and how different the voices we found turned out to be. Each of these writers have very distinctive styles of their own.

The photo essay in the issue is particularly striking, partly because it is also a debut photographer, but also because the faces of the young ragazzi are all obscured. Is this in part a comment on a generation that is in some ways in danger of being lost amidst an economic and political collapse?

Our brilliant photo editor Federico Del Prete has selected a series of stunning faceless portraits that remain open to interpretation. I think his and the young photographer Martino Pietropoli’s idea was not just to describe a generation but also to involve the spectator in the creation of meaning.

Where you surprised by the issues that this new generation of writers are focused on? Can you talk a little bit about the kinds of concerns they raise?

I am happy to say that I do not feel our authors set out to reflect their age or their epoch: they are not into literature as sociology. In this issue there are stories of love, death, friendship, work and above all, a strenuous concern for writing good prose.

Many of the contributors are quite young, several in their early thirties. Yet many write with a great deal of authority and precision about the difficulties of domesticity and family life. Do you think that whilst experience can be a vital asset for a writer, many can also produce their best work when they are young?

I am not sure that age is the point here. I guess you could say that literature is as good a fuel for writing as life itself, and that most of these authors have obviously been absorbing some very good literature.

There is a touching story here (‘Martino’ by Chiara Marchetti) which is in part about a woman who is mourning the death of her pet cactus. Are short stories able to illuminate these kinds of little disasters that can otherwise be overlooked?

The story is touching and exquisitely written, and one of the virtues of a good short story, and certainly of Chiara’s, is the ability to focus on small, slightly off-key details that lend meaning to the whole – not just the pet cactus, but a haircut, the lighting of a cigarette.

Can you tell us what the next issue is likely to be?

We are toying with a few ideas, one including an Italian city.


The latest issue of Granta Italia features: Luciano Funetta, Chiara Marchetti, Roberto Risso, Piergianni Curti, Danilo Deninotti, Francesca Mazia Esposito, Martino Pietropoli, Michele Di Palma, Mari Accardi, Leonardo Staglianò, Stefania Bruno, Laura Taffanello, Nicola Ingenito, Angelo Lippolis, Ferdinando Morgana, Domiano Zerneri.

Photograph by tattoodjay

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