“Viva Italia”: Reads for Italian American Heritage Month 2022

Italian-American Heritage and Culture Month is celebrated in October by proclamation of the President and Congress in the United States to honor the achievements and contributions of Italian immigrants and their descendants living in the United States, particularly in the arts, science, and culture.

To commemorate this occasion, here is a selection of recently published fiction and nonfiction by and about Italian Americans or set in Italy,  and of course, some delicious Italian cuisine cookbooks, all available in the Livingston Library collection.

Big Flavors from Italian America: Family-style Favorites from Coast to Coast

Dig into the best of Italian American cooking with recipes that would make any nonna proud. Bubbling lasagna and drop meatballs are hard to resist, but save room for Braciole and Chicken Scarpariello. Then go on the road to discover dishes from humble delis and hole-in-the-wall restaurants, like Philadelphia Pork Sandwiches, Eggplant Pecorino, and Utica Greens. Learn the tricks behind pizzas from Detroit, Chicago, and St. Louis. Finally, bring home the bakery (and street fair) with garlic knots and zeppole. 

The Bitter Taste Of Murder by Camilla Trinchieri

Scandal and murder rock a rustic Italian town. Luckily, a Big Apple sleuth is there to set things right. In Trinchieri’s savory sequel to 2020’s Murder in Chianti, former Bronx homicide detective Nico Doyle, who has been living in his late wife’s hometown of Gravigna, Italy, for the past year, investigates the death of unpopular wine critic Michele Mantelli, who lost control of his car and plunged down a ravine.

The Bookseller Of Florence : The Story Of the Manuscripts That Illuminated the Renaissance by Ross King

Art historian King delivers a richly detailed portrait of 15th-century Florence and the important role booksellers played in disseminating ancient Greek and Latin texts that were vital to the Renaissance. King focuses on Vespasiano da Bisticci, a renowned bookseller and “manuscript hunter” who produced gorgeously illustrated parchment copies of theological texts and works by Plato, Aristotle, and other ancient philosophers.

The Child Is The Teacher : A Life Of Maria Montessori by Cristina De Stefano ; translated from the Italian by Gregory Conti

Born in 1870 in Chiaravalle, Italy, Maria Montessori became a doctor at a time when female graduates in Italy provoked outright scandal. At around age 30, she was struck by the work being done with children from the slums of San Lorenzo, and realized what she wanted to do with her life: change the school, and therefore the world, through a new approach to the child’s mind. In spite of resistance, she established the influential Montessori Method, now practiced throughout the world. Based on original sources written by Montessori herself, this is a thorough, nuanced portrait of an influential figure.

The Children’s Train : A Novel by Viola Ardone

Based on true events, a heartbreaking story of love, family, hope, and survival set in post-World War II Italy, about poor children from the south sent to live with families in the north to survive deprivation and the harsh winters.

The Complete Italian Cookbook : Over 200 Classic and Contemporary Italian Dishes Made For the Modern Kitchen

From silky bowls of noodles and inventive pizzas to decadent classics like lasagna and cannolis, you’ll soon be tossing out your takeout menus and enjoying your best meals at home — just as the masters in the Old Country intended.

Cooking Alla Giudia : A Celebration Of The Jewish Food Of Italy by Benedetta Jasmine Guetta

This book is the ultimate tribute to the wonderfully rich, but still largely unknown, culinary heritage of the Jews of Italy. With recipes from Persian, Lebanese, Ashkenazic, and Libyan Jews, and kosher, vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options, author Benedetta Jasmin Guetta is on a mission to tell the story of how the Jews changed Italian food, to preserve the extraordinary recipes of the Jewish communities of Italy and make them vital and relevant today.

Courage, My Love by Kristin Beck

When the Nazi occupation of Rome begins, two courageous young women join the Italian Resistance to fight for their freedom.  As Lucia and Francesca struggle against the Nazi occupation, they learn to resist alongside the partisans to drive the Germans from Rome. As winter sets in though, the occupation tightens its grip on the city, and the resistance is in constant danger. In the darkest days, Francesca and Lucia face their pasts, and find the courage to love and strive for a future that is finally free.

Evil Under The Tuscan Sun by Stephanie Cole

Nell Valenti is at ease when managing a farm to table cooking school in sun-dappled Tuscany, but begins to feel the heat when tasked with catching a killer, in this engaging Italian-set cozy mystery series.

The Family by Naomi Krupitsky

A captivating debut novel about the tangled fates of two best friends and daughters of the Italian mafia, and a coming-of-age story of twentieth-century Brooklyn itself.

The Godmothers : A Novel by Camille Aubray

Godmothers to one another’s children, four women who married into a prosperous Italian family must come together, despite secrets and betrayals, when their husbands are forced to leave them during World War II, pitting them against notorious gangsters who run the streets of New York City.

The Good Left Undone : A Novel by Adriana Trigiani

From present day Viareggio to Glasgow during World War II, a multigenerational sweeping tale of love lost, family secrets, and reconciliation over decades from bestselling author Trigiani.

Hotel Portofino by J. P. O’Connell

Hotel Portofino has only been open a few weeks, but already the problems are mounting for its coproprietor Bella Ainsworth. She is short of staff and ready money. Her high-class guests are demanding and hard to please. And she is being targeted by a scheming and corrupt local politician, who threatens to drag her into the red-hot political cauldron of Mussolini’s Italy. 

In The Margins : On The Pleasures Of Reading And Writing by Elena Ferrante

A delightful collection of essays exploring reading and writing. “In the Margins” contains Elena Ferrante’s latest reflections on literature, and the works and authors that have influenced her throughout her career.

The Hummingbird : A Novel by Sandro Veronesi  translated from the Italian by Elena Pala

Marco Carrera is ‘the hummingbird,’ a man with an almost supernatural ability to remain still amid the chaos of an ever-changing world.  A thrilling Florentine family saga about the need to look to the future with hope and live with intensity to the very end, Veronesi’s masterpiece-eminently readable, rich in insight, and filled with interesting twists and revelations-is a portrait of human existence, the vicissitudes and vagaries that propel and ultimately define us.

M : Son Of The Century by Antonio Scurati

An epic historical novel that chronicles the birth and rise of fascism in Italy, witnessed through the eyes of its founder, the terrifyingly charismatic figure who would become one of the most notorious dictators of the twentieth century, Benito Mussolini.

Meeting in Positano by Goliarda Sapienza translated from the Italian by Brian Robert Moore

In this charming, deeply atmospheric novel set against the dazzling Amalfi Coast of the 1950s, two women form an intense and lasting friendship. Inspired by her own adventurous, unconventional life, actress and writer Goliarda Sapienza’s recently rediscovered novel takes the reader to the sun-drenched town of Positano in southern Italy.

One Italian Summer : A Novel by Rebecca Serle

A moving and unforgettable exploration of the powerful bond between mother and daughter set on the breathtaking Amalfi Coast.  It is a transcendent novel about how we move on after loss, and how the people we love never truly leave us.

Our Darkest Night : A Novel Of Italy And The Second World War by Jennifer Robson

In 1943, with German soldiers occupying much of Italy, Italian Jewish Antonina Mazin must flee Venice. But instead of risking a dangerous mountain crossing, she agrees to pose as the wife of Nico Gerardi, who cut short his seminary studies to return home to run the family farm. Unfortunately, their arrangement does not entirely persuade either the neighbors or the local Nazi official.

 Our Italian Summer by Jennifer Probst

This novel follows three generations of women on a month-long tour of Italy as they attempt to repair their troubled relationships. Filled with rich interactions between the women, as well as the lush Italian landscape, city descriptions, and culinary pleasures. 

Red Sauce : How Italian Food Became American by Ian MacAllen

A narrative social history tracing the evolution of traditional Italian American cuisine from its origins in Italy and its transformation in America into a distinct new cuisine.

A Sister’s Story by Donatella Di Pietrantonio ; translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein

 A s story about family, memory, love, and the relationships that define us. It’s the darkest time of night. Adriana, a baby in her arms, hammers on her sister’s door. Who is she running from? What uncomfortable truth is she carrying with her? Like a whirlwind, Adriana upends her sister’s life bringing chaos and cataclysmic revelations. Years later, the narrator gets an unexpected, urgent summons back to Pescara, her hometown. She embarks on a long journey through the night, and through the folds and twists of her memory, from her and her sister’s youth, their loves and losses, secrets and regrets.

Six Days In Rome : A Novel by  Francesca Giacco

Emilia arrives in Rome reeling from heartbreak and reckoning with her past. What was supposed to be a romantic trip has, with the sudden end of a relationship, become a solitary one instead. As she wanders, music, art, food, and the beauty of Rome’s wide piazzas and narrow streets color Emilia’s dreamy, but weighty experience of the city. She considers the many facets of her life, drifting in and out of memory, following her train of thought wherever it leads. While climbing a hill near Trastevere, she meets John, an American expat living a seemingly idyllic life. They are soon navigating an intriguing connection, one that brings pain they both hold into the light.

These Tangled Vines : A Novel by Julianne MacLean

Fiona travels to Italy, where the family is shocked to learn of her existence and desperate to contest her share of the will. While the mystery of her mother’s affair is slowly unraveled, Fiona must navigate through tricky family relationships and tense sibling rivalries. Fiona both fears and embraces her new destiny as she searches for the truth about the fateful summer her mother spent in Italy and the father she never knew.

Tony Lazzeri : Yankees Legend And Baseball Pioneer by Lawrence Baldassaro

A biography of Tony Lazzeri, a key member of the Yankees’ legendary Murderers’ Row lineup between 1926 and 1937 and the first major baseball star of Italian descent.

Vino : The Essential Guide To Real Italian Wine by Joe Campanale

The Italian wine bible for a new generation that explores the dynamic world of contemporary Italian wine, from a superstar sommelier.  Joe’s epic quest through Italy’s twenty regions takes him from the steep hills of Valle d’Aosta to the near-tropical climates of Sicily, and he uncovers and profiles the wonderful wines and producers in each. 

-Archana, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *