Nicola Lagioia

Nicola Lagioia was born in 1973 in the Italian city of Bari. He made his literary debut in 2001 with the novel »Tre sistemi per sbarazzarsi di Tolstoj (senza risparmiare se stessi)« (tr: Three Systems to Dispose of Tolstoy [Without Taking it Easy]). After his second novel »Occidente per principianti« (tr: The West For Beginners) was published in 2004, Lagioia took part a year later in a literary experiment, in which he and the other members of the Babette Factory writers’ collective, Francesco Pacifico, Francesco Longo and Christian Raimo, jointly published »Dopo Cristo« (tr: After Christ). Together with Raimo he produced the 2004 anthology »La qualità dell’aria« (tr: The Quality of the The Air), one of several collections of short stories published by Lagioia. For his novel »Riportando tutto a casa« (tr: Bring It All Home), the author was honored in 2010 with the Premio Vittorini, the Premio Volponi and the Premio Viareggio. A year later Lagioia was also introduced to German readers in »A Casa Nostra«, a collection of texts by promising Italian authors under the age of forty edited by Paola Gallo und Dalio Oggero. Lagioia’s piece describes his homeland, as a »paralyzed democracy« that has devolved to being »second world« country. However, it is this experience in particular that is bringing forth a »strong and courageous generation that isn’t afraid of starting over«. As a result, this new generation of Italian authors is no longer fixated on Anglo-American big-city literature, but finds inspiration in the narrative traditions of their own country and its various regions as well. Lagioia’s most recent book »La Ferocia« (2014; tr: Ferocity), presents a subtle and broadly drawn psychogram of an Italian family and is also a commentary on the condition of Italian society. It was not only the work’s unsparing critique of society, but also its narrative and stylistic power that resulted in it being awarded the renowned Premio Strega in 2015. Lagioia dissects the sequence of events into countless fragments, mixes them up, and then pieces them seamlessly together again. Equally dense is his narrative style, which leaves no detail unmentioned and which describes with an abundance of comparisons and metaphors the uncompromising pursuit of might and greatness that leaves his characters impoverished on a personal level. For instance, right at the beginning the inevitable death of a young woman, tottering along a highway through an exclusive residential area in Bari, is contrasted with a description of the small animals whose sleep she disturbs along her way, but who subsequently are indifferent to her fate.

Nicola Lagioia is the director of »narrative italiana« at the independent publishing house minimum fax. He lives in Rome.