Festival della Letteratura di Viaggio

It was a pleasure and an honour to discuss That Summer in Puglia at the 11th Festival della Letteratura di Viaggio (Rome, 20 – 23 September 2018).

R. Caputo, V. Vescina, T. Giartosio, C. Solito - (1)
Levante italiano: Rino Caputo, Valeria Vescina, Tommaso Giartosio, Carlos Solito

The festival’s name suggests a focus on travel literature but its remit defies narrow definitions. It showcases different ways of narrating places and cultures: journalism, travel memoir, fiction, photography, music, television, comics, anthropology, history, politics, philosophy… It’s promoted and hosted by the Società Geografica Italiana (founded in 1867, it’s Italy’s equivalent of the Royal Geographical Society, for those of you in the UK) in the historic grounds of its headquarters, Villa Celimontana.  Journalist and photographer Antonio Politano (La Repubblica, National Geographic and much more) is the Artistic Director. Writer and broadcaster Tommaso Giartosio (author of several books, journalist and presenter of Rai Radio Tre’s literary programme, ‘Fahrenheit’) co-ordinates the talks and interviews the speakers.

The festival’s byword being ‘openness’, its atmosphere is at once relaxed and challenging. The juxtaposition of some sessions emphasises the relevance and reach of world events. An example? In their presentation of Otto Giorni in Niger (Baldini + Castoldi) a memoir of days with the UNHCR in refugee camps in Niger, acclaimed authors Edoardo Albinati and Francesca D’Aloja spoke of how the experience affected their perspectives on issues ranging from degrees of hospitality and generosity, to the wisdom of young mothers whose babies were born of rape; their talk was followed by the award of the festival’s Navicella d’Oro Prize to Aboubakar Soumahoro, trade unionist, for his work against racism and the exploitation of migrants in Italy, and to Antonio Marchesi, President of Amnesty International Italy.

Aboubakar Soumahoro and Tommaso Giartosio (1)
Aboubakar Soumahoro and Tommaso Giartosio
E. Albinati, T. Giartosio, F. d'Aloja - (1)
Edoardo Albinati, Tommaso Giartosio and Francesca d’Aloja

The novels presented at the festival tend to be connected by a strong sense of place. The session ‘Levante Italiano’ or ‘Italian Levant’, involved a discussion of three works set in Puglia: Omar Di Monopoli’s Uomini e Cani (Adelphi), Carlos Solito’s Sciamenesciá (Elliot) and my That Summer in Puglia (Eyewear). Rino Caputo, Professor of Italian Literature at Tor Vergata, University of Rome, put them in the historical context of literature from Puglia-born writers, highlighting the similarities and differences vis a vis the experience of earlier Sicilian authors. Tommaso Giartosio pointed to the strong thread connecting our individual visions of Puglia, despite our three widely differing styles: namely, the region’s contradictions, rooted in history, which still shape its present and our imaginations.

R. Caputo, V. Vescina, T. Giartosio, C. Solito, O. Di Monopoli - (2)
Rino Caputo, Valeria Vescina, Tommaso Giartosio, Carlos Solito and Omar Di Monopoli in ‘Levante italiano’

 

That Summer in Puglia in Ostuni

Francesco Dimitri and Valeria Vescina - LR 1
With fellow-writer Francesco Dimitri, my interviewer

Yesterday’s event in Ostuni was very special: after a journey begun in Oxford, my protagonist Tommaso “came home” to the beautiful city through which he and Anna “walk”.

I have lots of people to thank for the success of this bilingual presentation to an audience consisting, in fairly equal parts, of Italian and native-English speakers:

  • The authorities who took the initiative of offering a literary event for both an Italian public and the sizeable Anglophone community resident in and around Ostuni. My thanks to Mayor Gianfranco Coppola, City Councillor Antonella Palmisano and Director of Museums Michele Conte, who gave the welcome addresses, and to their wonderful team, especially City Library Director Francesca Garziano and Press Officer Paola Loparco
  • Francesco, Paola and Ilaria Casanova of the Bottega del Libro bookshop, whose support at the event and in the weeks leading up to it was precious
  • Last but certainly not least, my wonderful interviewer Francesco Dimitri, another Apulian author living and working in London. Francesco writes in both Italian and English. His most recent titles include To Read Aloud and The Book of Hidden Things (which is set in Puglia) and he collaborates with The School of Life. I can’t wait for his That Sense of Wonder, which is due out in November 2018.

Francesco and I translated – from English into Italian and vice versa – everything we discussed. We had wondered how well this would work and were delighted to hear that people loved it and that many of them actively enjoyed the challenge of trying to understand what was being said in the other language before hearing the translation into their own tongue.

Bookshop window

Francesco’s questions were insightful and stimulating, and those from the audience showed warm engagement with the novel. As always, it was so lovely, afterwards, to meet those present, to hear their thoughts on the book and to learn of their backgrounds.

Image credits:

Photos © author.

Images of City of Ostuni’s poster and of Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno by the respective sources.

 

 

Italian, English, or both?

Publicity material for the talk - from the City of Ostuni

The City of Ostuni, where That Summer in Puglia is set, will host a presentation of the novel on the 31st of August in the magical surroundings of The Bishops’ Garden (Il Giardino dei Vescovi) of the Diocese’s Museum (Museo Diocesano).

Several things make this talk special for me: it feels as if my fictional protagonist, Tommaso, has ‘come home’; the venue opens onto the square through which he and his great love, Anna, ‘walk’ and where they ‘sit’ on the steps of the historic Cathedral; I’ve known and loved Ostuni all my life; and… the talk will be in English and Italian, something made possible by my wonderful interviewer, fellow-author Francesco Dimitri (To Read Aloud and The Book of Hidden Things, which is also set in Puglia), another Apulian living in the UK.

What could be more appropriate for this book than a bilingual presentation in Ostuni? A work of fiction written in English (my literary mother-tongue) and set in London and Puglia by a dual-nationality author will be discussed with an Italian- and an English-speaking public. I was so pleased that the Mayor, his team and the President of the Museo Diocesano were keen to organise an event of potential interest to the sizeable Anglophone local community.

Past and future presentations of the book include some with a notably bicultural angle: That Summer in Puglia had its debut at the FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival on Italian Day, which showcases Italian literature and culture; the Italian Cultural Institute in London hosted a discussion focused on the cross-cultural aspects of the novel and of the writing process; and one of my upcoming talks – for the Book to the Future Festival at the University of Birmingham – will be specifically on multilingualism and multiculturalism with reference to That Summer in Puglia.

During the Q&A at the talks, I’m often asked whether I feel Italian or British. The question is valid and the answer is that for me it’s not an “either/or” but an “and”: I am both Italian and British, and more broadly European.

Acknowledgments:

Image of publicity material: courtesy of the Comune di Ostuni.

Special thanks to the Comune di Ostuni’s Press Officer, Paola Loparco, and to the Director of the Library, Francesca Garziano.

That Summer in Puglia – review in Radici Future Magazine

My thanks to Tiziana Sforza for her extensive coverage of That Summer in Puglia in her article for Radici Future Magazine. She includes intriguing facts about tourism and foreign property investment in Puglia and a discussion of books which offer insights into this beautiful Southern Italian region. Click here to read.

Un sincero grazie a Tiziana Sforza per la bella segnalazione di That Summer in Puglia nel suo articolo per Radici Future Magazine. Cliccare qui per leggere l’articolo.

Headline from Radici Future Magazine

Ostuni - view of the coast from the town walls - V. Vescina ©2017

 

Image credits:

Headline: from Radici Future Magazine.

View of the sea from Ostuni: ©2017 Valeria Vescina.

Art in fiction: ‘high’ and ‘low’ art?

Extract from Jane Davis's series on art in fiction
Extract from Jane Davis’s series on art in fiction

Jane Davis today continues her inspiring series on Art in Fiction with contributions from three guests: Kate Rigby, Jenny Harper and me. I’m grateful to Jane for her invitation. I’ve long been fascinated by the uses and effects of art in creative writing – my research into them goes back years and continues, and my own fiction incorporates arts and artefacts – so it’s always a joy to be able to share that interest with others. Click here to read the article.

My contribution to Jane’s article focuses on the topic of ‘high’ and ‘low’ art: how helpful do I personally find that distinction? What purposes do art and artefacts serve in my fiction, especially in That Summer in Puglia?  Kate Rigby considers the related question of ‘art snobbery’, widening its scope from the visual arts to novels, and explaining why she doesn’t like strict genre classifications. Jenny Harper illustrates art’s redemptive power with an extract from People We Love.

For other articles in Jane Davis’s series, click here.

Happy reading!

 

That Summer in Puglia – views from the blog tour

That Summer in Puglia blog tour
That Summer in Puglia blog tour

What a delight the blog tour of That Summer in Puglia has been! All authors are a little apprehensive about how their book will be received, and I was no exception: ‘Will the reviewers like my novel?’ ‘Will they care for the aspects which I care most deeply about?’ ‘Will the characters and the places transport them…?’  The answers, happily, were yes, yes, yes…

I’m grateful to those who hosted a stop on the tour and to their fellow bloggers who made the reviews travel far and fast. Literary bloggers give freely of their time. No-one can mandate their emotional engagement or their final verdict. Their chief motivation? Love of reading, writing, learning and sharing. I’d like to thank them by selecting extracts from their reviews. But first, my thanks to Aimee Coveney and Helen McCusker of Bookollective for organising the tour and to Eyewear for publishing the book.

I hope the quotes from the tour will give you a flavour of the novel. You can read additional reviews here.

 

Jo Park kicked off on 17 May by hosting an extract from That Summer in Puglia on her Over the Rainbow Book Blog. A stop with a different blogger followed each day until 27 May.

Joy Corkery, Joyful Antidotes

“I have an absolutely great recommendation for you today, one that will melt your heart. […] This is a stunningly beautiful story, made even more wonderful by having Tommaso as the narrator. […] I cried, I rejoiced, I held my breath – and they are just some of the ways That Summer in Puglia hit me.”

Ann Marie Palladino, NYC-based Lit Wit Wine Dine

“Valeria Vescina writes beautifully. She creates an unbelievable sense of atmosphere and nostalgia. Her depictions of the landscape and architecture of Puglia have made me want to visit this region I’d heard little of but am now slightly obsessed with. […]

What I loved most about this book was that it was a very emotional read. Yes, it’s a love story but it’s so much more than a love story. It’s a reminder of how things can go so very wrong when we try so very hard to do right by those we love. It’s about communication and miscommunication and redemption. It’s about the expectations we have of our parents and those we have of our children. It’s about how we differ in our reactions to anger and grief. I could go on and on. In short, it’s about all of the things that make us fragile, vulnerable, human… […] A perfect book club choice. This book is an impressive debut and I’d certainly love to read more books by Valeria Vescina in the future.”

Karen Mace, Books and Me!

“I found this to be a totally absorbing debut and loved spending time with the character Tommaso as he recounted the story of his life and loves to a PI who has tracked him down 30 years later. […] The attention to detail was exquisite and the sights and sounds are brought vividly to life through the pages. It had a lovely gentle feel to it throughout and I can’t wait to read more from this author in the future.”  

Claire Lyons, Mrs. Average Evaluates

This review is in video form.

“So carefully written and incredibly evocative… A very passionate book… Shakespearean mix-ups and misunderstandings and lack of communication…

…And it’s about youth, and about parenting, and about loss… It’s a super book. I’d love you to read this. It’s a beautiful, beautiful book.”

Amanda Duncan, My Bookish Blog Spot

“It was Tommaso that stole my heart…  Vescina’s writing is brimming full of emotion and tenderness.

The vibrancy of the town square, the winding backstreets, and Tommaso’s villa and its gardens, conjured up such vivid and vibrant images. I could almost smell the flowers in the beautiful gardens and my mouth watered at the descriptions of the amazing food cooked by Concetta. The whole setting was beautifully atmospheric and so befitting of this amazing love story…

I loved this novel. It had everything you want in a love story. It had passion, betrayal, grief, and loss but most of all it was about the capacity we have in all of us to forgive, to make amends and make the best of what life has to offer. […] A sumptuous, evocative and totally enthralling novel… It is just beautiful.”

Cathy Johnson, What Cathy Read Next

“As intense as the heat of an Italian summer. […] As Tommaso and Anna roam the maze of narrow streets that make up the Old Town of Ostuni, taking delight in small things and shared places, there are beautiful descriptions of the ancient town, full of light and shade.

That Summer in Puglia provides a devastating portrait of how love can, in a moment, turn to hate if fuelled by insecurity, jealousy and an inability to trust.  And how what often follows just as quickly is regret, guilt, despair and hopelessness. It also shows how a single action, even if done for what is thought are the right reasons, can have unintended and long-lasting consequences, but that sometimes there may be the opportunity to make reparation. The emotional power of Tommaso’s story and the effortless, flowing writing of Valeria Vescina are what will stay with me about That Summer in Puglia.”  

Eva Merckx, Novel Deelights

“The beautiful descriptions transported me straight there, from the olive trees to the scent of the flowers. […] At its heart, That Summer in Puglia is a love story but it’s so much more than that. It’s a relatable character study full of complexities that oozes atmosphere.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. The way we react to certain things in the heat of the moment can have a huge effect. It isn’t until later on, that we maybe think “I could have” or “I shouldn’t have”. As a nineteen year old boy, Tommaso makes some dubious decisions… Did he make the right choices? That’s up to you to find out when you read this novel.

With beautiful descriptions and well-developed rich characters, Valeria Vescina takes us on a moving journey through Tommaso’s life. That Summer in Puglia is a brilliantly written, poignant, thought-provoking character-driven story about young love, loss, grief, family and second chances. An absolutely wonderful debut.”

Susan Heads, The Book Trail

“It’s a tale touched with sadness and poignancy, tragedy and loss but also one of self-discovery and second chances…  At first sight, it’s a simple tale of boy meets girl, but pull back those layers and it’s so much more – Puglia plays its role in being a mix of old and new, white architecture and old town – mixing two worlds which seem separate but which on closer inspection are very similar. The writing was very lyrical, like an ode to a time gone by, a memory – and of course this story is told by the one person who can tell it all as it happened, or at least how he thinks it all took place…”

The Book Trail also features an interview with me on its Authors on Location section. They’re creating an online guide to the real-life places in the novel, too.

Linda Hill, Linda’s Book Bag

“Today I’m delighted to be celebrating That Summer in Puglia by bringing you an interview with Valeria…” 

Interview topics include: the perfect reader of That Summer in Puglia, books I’m reading, my writing habits, creative inspiration and future plans.

Danielle Nolan’s Books, Vertigo & Tea was the final stop on the tour, which it fittingly closed the way it had begun: with another extract from the novel.

I love hearing from readers, so do contact me with your personal responses to That Summer in Puglia. The Q&A section of my website contains resources for anyone curious to gain more insight into it.

The novel is available in bookshops throughout the UK, as well as online from Amazon and others in the UK and abroad.

 

 

Image credits:

Blog tour banner – courtesy of Bookollective

Photo with Rosie Goldsmith at Italian Cultural Institute launch of That Summer in Puglia – courtesy of Rosie Goldsmith

All other images – all rights reserved.

A Bookollective interview about That Summer in Puglia

‘Today I’m delighted to be celebrating That Summer in Puglia…’

Thank you, Linda, for hosting me on your fabulous blog for today’s stop on the blog tour of That Summer in Puglia!

 

Linda's Book Bag

better cover

I’m a hopeless romantic and I love to travel so I’m thrilled to have That Summer in Puglia by Valeria Vescina on my TBR as I have a feeling it’s going to appeal to both aspects very effectively! Today I’m delighted to be celebrating That Summer in Puglia. by bringing you an interview with Valeria conducted by those lovely folk at Bookollective.

That Summer in Puglia is available for purchase directly from the publisher, Eyewear Books here and on Amazon.

That Summer in Puglia

cover_Vescina_3d_1024x1024

Tommaso has escaped discovery for thirty years but a young private investigator, Will, has tracked him down. Tommaso asks him to pretend never to have found him. To persuade Will, Tommaso recounts the story of his life and his great love. In the process, he comes to recognise his true role in the events which unfolded, and the legacy of unresolved grief. Now he’s…

View original post 989 more words

Authors on Location: interviewed by The Book Trail

Book Trail Authors on Location (1)

I was interviewed by Susan Heads about That Summer in Puglia, for the Authors on Location section of The Book Trail. Susan’s questions were thought-provoking:

  • What made you want to write this story?
  • Why did you decide to place the action where you did?
  • How do you research a novel such as this?
  • Why is the story important – its message?
  • The story of young love is difficult – a kind of modern-day Romeo and Juliet. Which stories of young love like this have you seen?
  • Who would play your characters in a movie of the book?
  • Something you found surprising whilst researching the novel?
  • Can you tell us more about Puglia and your own experiences of it?

What you see on my blog post are just a couple of excerpts. You can find the full text of the interview by clicking here.

Book Trail Authors on Location (2)

Susan Heads’ enthusiastic review of the novel is here, where you’ll find also an online guide The Book Trail has begun creating to the real-life places in That Summer in Puglia.

Credits:

Excerpts courtesy of The Book Trail.

 

Review of That Summer in Puglia on Novel Deelights

“With beautiful descriptions and well-developed rich characters, Valeria Vescina takes us on a moving journey through Tommaso’s life. That Summer in Puglia is a brilliantly written, poignant, thought-provoking character-driven story about young love, loss, grief, family and second chances. An absolutely wonderful debut.”

Thank you, Eva Merckx, for your amazing review of That Summer in Puglia!

Novel Deelights

It is my pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for That Summer in Puglia by Valeria Vescina! My thanks to the publisher for my review copy and to Aimee at Bookollective for the invitation to join the tour!

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Author : Valeria Vescina
Title : That Summer in Puglia
Pages : 303
Publisher : Eyewear Publishing
Publication date : March 12, 2018

aboutthebook

Tommaso has escaped discovery for thirty years but a young private investigator, Will, has tracked him down. Tommaso asks him to pretend never to have found him. To persuade Will, Tommaso recounts the story of his life and his great love. In the process, he comes to recognise his true role in the events which unfolded, and the legacy of unresolved grief. Now he’s being presented with a second chance – but is he ready to pay the price it exacts?

mythoughts

Thirty years…

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