Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Thursday, June 5, 2014

"The Fragment of a Thriller" by Silvia Ballestra (1993, translated by Minnie Proctor)

I have been having a wonderful time reading short fiction by Italian women writers.  I am sensitive to the issues involved in grouping writers together by gender but happy circumstances and a kind gift of books have allowed me access to stories by about forty new to me Italian writers so I have started a project devoted to fiction by Italian women.  

"The Fragment of a Thriller"  by Silvia Bellestra (1969, born in Marcha, Italy, graduate of the University of Bologna, currently living in Milan, author of short stories and novels) is a really imaginative, different from the norm, highly creative story about the psychological impact of growing old.  Today is Nonna 
F. K's 80th birthday and her granddaughter, the narrator of the story says even though Nonna claims to hate birthday parties, the day will be observed.  Nonna used to live in a small seaside town, now she lives in an apartment house with lots of locks on her door.  Her daughter and granddaughter live next door.  I loved how the daughter of Nonna had worked out rigid rules about how to react if Nonna does not answer the phone or door bell.  You can see decades of family history in these rules.  Nonna watches a lot of TV so if you call during her soap operas don't expect an answer.  A fascinating aspect of the story for mewas when the granddaughter fantasizes about her Nonna in various science fiction type settings.

I greatly enjoyed this story and would happily read more of Ballestra's work.

I read this story in a very high value anthology After the War- A Collection of Short Stories by Post War Italian Women Writers edited by Martha King.

This anthology is published by Italica Press, a leading publisher of literary and historical works related to Italy.  Anyone interested in Italian literature and history will find their webpage very valuable.  They have an extensive offering of translated works by Italian women. 

The translation by Minna Proctor reads very well.  

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