Figures in Italian Migration Literature
To speak means to come forward and to locate oneself in one’s sphere of existence; it means to claim a modest quantum of agency.1 A novel published in Italy in 1980 indicates a wider cultural frame in which to view the literature of immigration which will be the focus of this study. Nero di Puglia, written by Antonio Campobasso, of fers a first-person nar- rative of the experiences from childhood to around thirty years of age of a mixed-race boy in Italy.2 Born on 2 June 1946, the day of inauguration of the Italian Republic, to an African American father serving brief ly in the US armed forces in Italy, and a Puglian mother who subsequently married a British Italian man and moved to London, the narrator’s life, after early years being cared for by his grandmother in a Puglian village, is told as a passage from an orphanage to numerous young of fender institutions, to prisons, an asylum, and eventually drama school, each move contributing to the tracing of a map of Italy from Messina to Milan.3 Physical abuse and hardship are a feature of all his stopping points. Acute anger and emotional 1 Michel de Certeau, The Capture of Speech and Other Political Writings, ed. by Luce Giard, trans. and afterword by Tom Conley (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1997), 98. 2 Antonio Campobasso, Nero di Puglia (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1980). 3 The early story of Campobasso carries echoes of Leonardo Sciascia’s character, Candido Munafò, born in Sicily...
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