Festival degli Scrittori XI



Festival degli Scrittori XI


The Festival degli Scrittori XI Edition, June 14-17, 2017

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It was a hot, busy, glorious eleventh edition of the Festival degli Scrittori, our most expansive yet, with author events at independent bookstores across Florence and an opening celebration of young writers from Porto delle Storie, who have published a book of their work.

Aided by writer Paolo Giordano, and taking place in the glorious Cenacolo of Santa Croce Basilica, their funny and intelligent comments on writing were a charming start to four days of literature.
The highlight of our opening day, however, was “The Empty Suitcase” at the Odeon Theatre, in which texts addressing migration, ranging from the Bible and the Odyssey, to Mohsin Hamid and Yiyun Li, were read by Zadie Smith, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Luigi Lo Cascio, Juan Gabriel Vasquez and Atiq Rahimi. It was a stunning and moving performance directed by Volker Schlöndorff.
Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and Luigi Lo Cascio
Yonas Aregay and Luigi Lo Cascio
Atiq Rahimi, Volker Schlöndorff, Yonas Aregay, Luigi Lo Cascio, Beatrice Monti della Corte and Zadie Smith

A highlight of the Festival, on Day Two, was in the Cenacolo of Santa Croce: the Lectio Magistralis given by Dany Laferrière, a member of the Académie Française. The lecture, called L’arte della cronaca, was filled with memories from his childhood in Haiti, his exile, his time in Montreal, and his passion for literature. The full text is available here.

Dany LaFerrière, presenter of this year’s Lectio Magistralis

After the Lectio, Ellyn Toscano, the director of New York University Florence, gave a dinner at La Pietra, the magnificent Renaissance Villa where for so many years Harold Acton received and entertained the best of international culture and society.

László Krasnahorkai at Libreria Brac
Mathias Ènard at Todo Modo

Every day began with a morning coffee with one of our finalists, held in local bookstores all over Florence. People seemed delighted by the informal setting).

And, as every year, each afternoon was filled with conversations on the Balcony of Palazzo Strozzi, where our finalists discussed their work in-depth with other writers.

Valeria Luiselli, from Mexico, spoke with Juan Gabriel Vasquez and Andrea Bajani about her novel The Story of My Teeth. László Krasnahorkai, author of Satantango, sat with Edmund White and Wlodek Goldkorn in a conversation about memory and the end of the world. Mathias Ènard was in conversation with Juan Gabriel Vasquez and Vanni Santoni about his novel CompassClemens Meyer discussed life during German reunification and his novel While We Were Dreaming with Volker Schlöndorff and Paolo Giordano. And Èdouard Louis spoke about his novel Story of Violence with Edmund White and Simona Baldanza.

Other events included a conversation between Pulitzer Prize-winner Hisham Matar and writer-director Atiq Rahimi, and a conversation with Andrea Landolfi on his book, Rezzoriana, about the writer Gregor von Rezzori, joined by Beatrice Monti della Corte and Andrea Bajani.
Atiq Rahimi, Igiaba Scego and Hisham Matar
Andrea Landolfi and Beatrice Monti della Corte discussing his book Rezzoriana

And then, on Saturday, we came to the Ceremony for the Premio Gregor von Rezzori, held in the Sala D’Arme of the Palazzo Vecchio, surrounded by magnificent projections of Santa Maddalena taken by the photographer Francois Halard.  The jury for Best Work of Foreign Fiction was composed of Edmund White, Andrea Bajani, Alberto Manguel, Beatrice Monti della Corte, Ernest Ferrero and Paolo Giordano.  

Cristina Giachi, Vice-Mayor of Florence, welcomed all to the event. Anna D’Elia was awarded the Translation Prize for her work on Terminus Radioso by Antoine Volodine.

Alba Donati gave out the Gregor von Rezzori Young Readers Prize for essays on each of the finalists’ work. Andrea Bajani led the proceedings with grace and humor. Below, the finalists: Valeria Luiselli, László Krasnahorkai, Mathias Ènard, Clemens Meyer, and Èdouard Louis.
Andrea Bajani and Beatrice Monti della Corte with the winner of the Premio Gregor von Rezzori: Mathias Ènard

Finally, the winner of best work of foreign fiction was announced: Matthias Ènard, for Compass (Boussole). The novel records the thoughts of the narrator, Franz Ritter,  as he passes  through a sleepless night in Vienna. “The fevered knowledge represented in Compass,” wrote juror Edmund White, “embraces centuries, a vast cast of characters and many lands; it is the frail bridge between two imperilled cultures.”

The next morning, everybody gathered at Santa Maddalena to enjoy not only a memorable dejeuner sur l’herbe but the Tuscan countryside and the company of writers.

Winner of the Premio Gregor von Rezzori Mathias Ènard and Beatrice Monti della Corte

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Festival photographs by Alessandro Moggi.

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