A Belknap Global Conversation presented by the Humanities Council and co-sponsored by the Department of French and Italian and the Program in Creative Writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts

Princeton University’s Council of the Humanities and Lewis Center for the Arts present “Born Traveling: Dacia Maraini in a Belknap Global Conversation with Jhumpa Lahiri and Alessandro Giammei.” The event will feature a reading by award-winning writer and activist Dacia Maraini in Italian with English supertitles followed by a conversation in English with faculty members Alessandro Giammei and Jhumpa Lahiri. The reading and conversation will take place at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 22 in McCormick Hall Room 101 on the Princeton University campus. This event is free and open to the public; a reception will follow.

Dacia Maraini

Italian writer and activist Dacia Maraini. Courtesy of Dacia Maraini

Maraini is the author of 16 novels and 20 plays, as well as various screenplays, poems, and cultural criticisms, and is heralded as a feminist for the autonomy and independent voices she gives her female characters. During her childhood, Maraini and her family were interned in a Japanese concentration camp for refusing to support Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, an experience that contributed to her anti-fascists works and social activism later in life. This background inspired the feminism apparent in novels such as Marianna Ucria, recipient of the Premio Campiello award in Italy, and in her criticisms of Italy as a whole. A columnist for the Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Serra, Maraini was the recipient of the 1999 Premio Strega, Italy’s most prestigious literary award, as well as other awards including the Formentor Prize and the Premio Fregene. Maraini also helped found and write for the del Porcospino theatrical company, whose mission is to produce new Italian plays, and founded the Teatro della Maddalena, a theatrical company run entirely by women.

Lahiri is a writer and Professor of Creative Writing at Princeton who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2000 for her collection of short stories Interpreter of Maladies. She received the 2008 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, the world’s largest prize for a short story collection, for her collection Unaccustomed Earth, and she won the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature in 2015 for her novel The Lowland, which was also a finalist for the Man Booker prize and the National Book Award. She has received the PEN/Hemingway Award, an O. Henry Prize, the Addison Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Vallombrosa Von Rezzori Prize, and the Asian American Literary Award, as well as a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2002 and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 2006. Her most recent book, In Other Words, written in Italian, explores the often emotionally fraught links between identity and language. Lahiri is currently teaching a creative writing workshop at Princeton focusing on contemporary Italian literature.

Giammei is a lecturer in the Council of the Humanities and Department of French and Italian at Princeton, as well as a Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellow in the Society of Fellows. Sponsored by a grant from Fondazione Toti Scialoja, Giammei’s first book, Nell’officina del nonsense di Toti Scialoja: Topi, toponimi, tropi, cronotopi, won the Harvard edition of the Edinburgh Gadda Prize in 2015. He is currently working on a book project, A Poet in Marble, which concerns the Italian Renaissance work Orlando Furioso and its intersection with 20th-century Italian movements. Giammei received his Perfezionamento (Ph.D.) in Italian Literature from Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, completed his Laurea and Laurea Magistrale studies at the University of Rome La Sapienza, and has taught at New York University as a Visiting Scholar Researcher. He teaches courses on Renaissance and modern Italian literature and art and is involved in Princeton’s Prison Teaching Initiative.

For more information on the Belknap Global Conversation series and the Humanities Council, visit: humanities.princeton.edu.

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