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6 Agosto 2019

Three novels set in Turin that you should read

Cesare Pavese’s The House on the Hill, Natalia Ginzburg’s Family Lexicon and Elena Ferrante’s Days of Abandonment: tasks, more than advices

Giovanni Mauriello (translation by Lorenzo Bijno)

Many books are set in Turin

Istat, the Italian National Institute of Statistics, reported that in 2016 60% of Italians had read no book, not even a recipe book, an essay or the biography of a footballer. Nothing at all.
If we want to avoid the same problem arising in the future, we had better recommend some books you should read. And to make these suggestions even more interesting, all three works are set in our city: Turin.

It is only natural to start with one of the most influential and talented writers of Italy’s contemporary literature: that is to say, Cesare Pavese. Although born in Cuneo, near Turin, Pavese’s writings – as well as his life – are closely linked to the capital city of Piedmont, the setting of many of his works.
The House on the Hill is the story of an individual solitude in the face of civil commitment, a contradiction to be resolved between life in the countryside and life in the city, in the chaos of World War II. It is a well-balanced novel with a beautifully-structured layout, in which the reader is placed in the role of the main character, particularly in his most complex and introspective moments. Reading Pavese is both a duty and a pleasure, especially for those who are surrounded on a daily basis by the places described in his novels.

Natalia Ginzburg is the name you can and must invoke whenever some fool declares that women write worse than men (and, unfortunately, there are many fools around).
Family Lexicon is a novel that is going to last: it revolves around the author’s family and traces Italy’s dynamics together with those of the family. The circular structure compels the reader to grow fond of the jargon used by the characters inhabiting a Turin which is completely different from today’s. Every Turin citizen (or city lover) will be delightfully drawn to the San Salvario of the ’30s. Therefore, we highly recommend it.

It’s probably not Elena Ferrante‘s best novel, but you’ll love it precisely because it was written by her. Perhaps few of her readers would name Turin, when thinking about her works. In fact, most of her writings are set in Naples, but it is undeniable that our city is often chosen by the author as the backdrop of her stories.
The Days of Abandonment, which in 2005 Roberto Faenza adapted for the cinema, tells the story of Olga, a woman struggling with a sudden loneliness right inside her house in Turin. Read it, but be careful: Ferrante’s writing can cause addiction.


In collaboration with Study in Torino

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