General Fiction



Garzanti, April 2023, pp.224

English sample available

Stephanie is a ten-year-old girl in the rough outskirts of Naples, who already knows that words are her one defence against the world. She has been taught that by her grandmother Nannina, a storyteller who gave her hope until someone silenced her.

Two protagonists, two generations. A wonderful tale of working-class people.

Naples. Whenever Stephanie, aged ten, comes back home she complains to her mother about her cousins playing outdoors while she cannot. The reason for that is simple: they can because they’re boys, whereas she is a girl. So she starts reading on the balcony, the only outside area where her parents allow her to go. Stephanie studies because she knows that words are her only defence against the world. Her grandmother Nannina, a storyteller, has told her that. Some say she is just a mad old woman, while others think she is something quite different. With her stories, Nannina has given a place to those who did not have one, an identity and dignity to mothers drained by poverty and the arrogance of men, and made people laugh and cry. That is until the day someone grows weary of Nannina and silences her. It is now up to her granddaughter Stephanie to take up her voice and, in her stories, find her own redemption–that of a girl with a dream: to study and discover freedom.

Garzanti, April 2023, pp.224

  • “A style that is lively and alive, an intense language.” 

    Donatella Di Pietrantonio, internationally acclaimed Italian author

  • “The characters speak to one another in a lively, almost musical language.”

    Maria Grazia Ligato, IO Donna

  • “Amid echoes of Ferrante (…) Stefania Spanò finds her niche of authenticity by exploring worlds that are yet unknown, not written about, like the ancient craft of storytelling.”


    Mirella Armiero, Corriere del Mezzogiorno

  • “The narrative partly reminds us of the My Brilliant Friend saga: the colours and voices of the district, the Neapolitan dialect, the conflicting relationship with the mother, the love of learning and the redemption brought by writing (…) At times a painful story, but with a hopeful ending.”


    Fulvia Degl’Innocenti, Famiglia Cristiana

  • “A novel full of energy (…) underpinned by robust civic tension.”


    Marzia Fontana, La Lettura

  • “The power of this debut novel lies in its originality, in its different journey, in its surprising decision to celebrate something archaic, steeped in smells, flavours and waste matter from the deepest entrails of the Secondigliano suburb of Naples.”

    Stefano Massimi, Robinson – La Repubblica

  • “Spanò’s talent is in knowing how to blend innocence and irony in a very natural way.”


    Il Mattino

Stefania Spanò

Stefania Spanò is a storyteller, a sign language interpreter and an Italian and History teacher at a  lower secondary school. For years, she has held workshops on theatre, creative writing, empathic communication and visual poetry on the troubled edges of the Neapolitan hinterland, the rest of Italy and abroad. As a storyteller, she tours with tales of her family tradition. This is her first novel.

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