Literary Fiction

Splendi come vita

(As Radiant as Life Itself)

Ponte alle Grazie, January 2021, pp.224

Longlisted 2021 Strega Prize

Literary sensation

3 editions in 2 months

A story of tormented love between an adoptive mother and her daughter.

One of Italy’s best-loved women poets tells the story of her own childhood, when she was abandoned, and that of her even harder, tormented relationship with her adoptive mother – a crucial figure in this tale and enquiry into love.

A well-known news item that featured for weeks on the front pages of Italian newspapers in the 1960s marks the beginning of Maria Grazia Calandrone’s story. In 1965, an eight-month-old baby was found in the middle of the Villa Borghese park in Rome. In the days that followed, the sad circumstances surrounding her abandonment were discovered. Her mother, who’d been unfaithful to her husband, and the baby’s father had committed suicide by throwing themselves into the Tiber. After less than a month in an orphanage, the little girl was adopted by Giacomo Calandrone, the then leader of the Italian Communist Party, and his wife, who was a teacher.

The author opts for the first time for fiction to tell us the most difficult story of her life: not about being abandoned but about her rapport with her adoptive mother: a loving but also oppressive and cruel relationship.

Ponte alle Grazie, January 2021, pp.224

  • “Splendi come la vita is the story of an injury, a split, a loss, a part of Italy, an ‘elegy’, a news item, a very difficult relationship. A blow. A jewel. A magnificent love letter.”

    Federica De Paolis, ttL

  • “This is not a novel and it’s not an autobiography: it’s the explosion of a star.”

    Andrea Cortellessa, literary critic

  • “This book is also a compendium of solitude, of a terrible absence where no word is salvation.”

    Il Manifesto

Maria Grazia Calandrone

Maria Grazia Calandrone is a poet, author, journalist, playwright, and a writer and presenter for the Italian national broadcasting corporation. She holds poetry workshops in state schools and prisons. She has been awarded the following prizes for her poetry: Montale, Pasolini, Trivio, Europa, Dessì and Napoli. She also won the Bo-Descalzo award for literary criticism.

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