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An Agile Guide to the Strega Prize 2024

How it works, who votes and the dozen of nominated books

An Agile Guide to the Strega Prize 2024 How it works, who votes and the dozen of nominated books

The Strega Prize is approaching. How does it work? What are the nominated books? We'll explain it to you, starting from the origins. Since 1947, the Strega Prize has annually recognized what, according to the jury, is the best contemporary fiction book published between March 1 of the previous year and February 28 of the current year. The titles are proposed by the Amici della Domenica, a group of 400 men and women of culture who, with the author's consent, can nominate a work deemed worthy. Then the Management Committee - composed of representatives of the Maria and Goffredo Bellonci Foundation, representatives of the Strega society, of the Alberti Benevento company, 3 Strega Prize-winning writers, and at least 4 Amici della Domenica - chooses the 12 titles that will be read and judged until one winner is selected.

The Strega Prize 2024

The 2024 edition opened on April 5 with the announcement of the shortlist. Each juror must give their preference to 3 of the 12 selected books. This jury is composed not only of the Amici della Domenica, but also 30 strong readers, 25 collectives, and 245 Italian Cultural Institutes abroad. The 5 books that receive the most consensus will be announced on June 5. But beware! If a book published by a medium-small publisher is not included in the ranking, the book of a medium-small publisher with the highest score will enter the second round of voting, resulting in a final with six candidates. At this point, each juror will give their preference to only 1 book, and the most voted will be announced at the final award ceremony on July 4. The winner, in addition to the recognition, will receive a cash prize of 5000 euros. Winning the Strega Prize means obtaining the literary recognition universally recognized as the most prestigious in Italy. Among the winners of past years, we remember Non ti muovere by Margaret Mazzantini (2002), La solitudine dei numeri primi by Paolo Giordano (2008), La scuola cattolica by Edoardo Alinati (2016), and Il Colibrì by Sandro Veronesi (2020). In addition to the canonical Strega Prize for Italian fiction, other awards have been added over time: the Young Strega, the European Strega, the Strega Poetry, and the Young Strega Poetry. Now, we present the shortlist of 2024.

Nella stanza dell'imperatore - Sonia Aggio

This historical novel was proposed by Simona Cives with the following motivation: "An ambitious and robust novel written by a young and talented author, Sonia Aggio, who, with the same passion she nurtures for History, works in the library with great dedication and enthusiasm. The book, with its rich, meticulously crafted language and a complex plot full of narrative developments, fits perfectly into the historical novel genre at its highest. It reconstructs the existential journey of the Byzantine emperor John Zimisce, who, from a simple soldier, managed to ascend to the throne of one of the largest and most powerful empires ever to exist. A remarkable literary work that addresses important universal themes, with a text characterized by sumptuous, refined, and elegant style, for a narrative rich in inventiveness and continuous twists". Not bad!

Adelaida - Adrián N. Bravi

Adelaida Gigli was one of the most surprising female figures of 20th century Argentina. The portrait painted by Adrián N. Bravi was proposed by Romana Petri with the following motivation: "Bravi's admirable writing is like a mirror. He writes while looking inside, but does not find himself. In a Flaubertian manner, identified with Adelaida, it is she who moves, relives, suffers, but still manages to have some fundamental, fleeting appointment of happiness in the last part of her solitary life. A work of rare beauty (much more than a biography). With Adelaida, Bravi gives us the life of a unique woman, whom no reader will ever forget".

Romanzo senza Umani - Paolo Di Paolo

With a literary language that strikes with intensity, Paolo Di Paolo tackles the theme of memory. The book was proposed by Gianni Amelio who explained: "With a literary language that strikes with intensity, Paolo Di Paolo once again addresses, in a very original way, the fundamental questions of his narrative, starting from the value and substance of memory: 'What do others remember about us?'. A layered, dense, and ironic novel that manages to traverse the knots of an entire life, and a bit of all lives. The relationship with the masters, with the body rediscovered in nudity, in a spa that brings to mind Thomas Mann. And again, the missed acts that paralyze. The afternoons that remain, like the present, which is the only wealth. And also the relationship with what we study, with the purpose we give to our existence, until we forget to live it. The protagonist happens to recount - in hilarious pages - that remote glacial era in the space of a few seconds of a crowded television talk show. Many questions and many very human encounters, despite the title. Until discovering, on the level of meta-novel, that the possible way out, the true gesture of courage, is the act of writing itself".

L'età fragile - Donatella Di Pietrantonio

Donatella Di Pietrantonio's novel tells the story of a fragmented family, seeking to find harmony again. Alessandro Piperno, who proposed it, explains: "In L'età fragile, Donatella Di Pietrantonio takes us by the hand on a journey that is geographical, of course, but above all emotional, psychological, existential. The age of fragility is not just the age of the protagonists but also, and above all, the age of the reader who is led to make peace with their wounds and their ghosts, to look their father and mother straight in the eyes, their husband, their children, and themselves. Without indulging in reconciliation or extenuation. An extraordinary novel, a passage of life. Necessary".

Autobiogrammatica - Tommaso Giartosio

This text, which resembles a surprising and dizzying game, investigates language as the origin of the world's consciousness. The book was proposed by Emanuele Trevi: "Language, and the intimate relationship that every writer establishes with the words of their life, those that have shaped them and marked their intellectual and human path, have long been confined to the world of essays and literary criticism. In Autobiogrammatica, with the wisdom and depth that have always characterized his writing, Tommaso Giartosio transforms them into the heart and engine of a text that is at the same time a coming-of-age novel and memoir, family chronicle and self-portrait, public and private dictionary: an enterprise that seems to me as precious as it is necessary".

Cose che non si raccontano - Antonella Lattanzi

This autobiography focused on women's relationship with their own bodies was proposed by Valeria Parrella: "I believe that the past year has been rich in beautiful books, yet I have no doubts, for once, about what, in my opinion, has best represented our literature. It is a novel that represents a private moment but can tell how much it is conditioned by the gaze of others, how, that is, not any society but precisely ours, the Italian one of the 2020s, the post-pandemic one, can be judgmental and demanding in the face of the most complex and precious matter of existence: the body of women. It is a novel about desire, indeed about two desires from which this body of women is often torn: the desire for self-assertion, ambition, work fulfillment that inexorably clashes against another all-encompassing desire: motherhood. When is it too late to try to have a child? Moreover, in my opinion, there is the overcoming of the now abused technique of autofiction, with a happy return to declared autobiography, pure: that which comes from Natalia Ginzburg and the most successful stories by Anna Maria Ortese".

Dalla stessa parte mi troverai - Valentina Mira

This story, which begins one winter evening on January 7, 1978, was proposed by Franco Di Mare with the following reasoning: "In years of celebrating forgetfulness, in the name of a comprehensible desire to turn the page and reach a shared memory, to a pacification, to overcoming the years of lead and thus to the miracle of forgiveness that unites the victims in grief, Valentina Mira bursts forth with the power of a tsunami. Which side? That of the just (which does not always coincide with justice) that of History (which does not always tell it as it happened) that of the victims (who cannot share the responsibilities of the executioners). In this powerful novel Valentina Mira tells the story of Acca Larentia and the years of lead that followed, the murders, the trials, a mephitic and poisonous atmosphere that enveloped the hearts and minds of the Country. And she does so by dipping the pen 'in the milk and blood' with which Rome wrote its millennial history and telling a story of love and its salvific power. It won't be enough to find a reason for things. Valentina, however, has an explanation".

Il fuoco invisibile. Storia umana di un disastro naturale - Daniele Rielli

This family novel, which is also the account of a trial of the Salem witches in the era of social media, was proposed by Antonio Pascale with the following reasoning: "Rielli has managed to exploit all the enormous but little-used potential of the novel. By using various narrative tools, from authorial reportage to journalistic investigation, autobiography, essayistic reflection, to proper narrative storytelling, Rielli thus builds a magnificent choral novel, a narrative that shows from the start a direct filiation with high models. Focusing on the most serious bacterial epidemic, namely Xylella (which devastated the olive groves in a vast area of Salento), story after story, event after event, character after character, Rielli gives us through a moving sense of pietas, holding irony and sarcasm in check, a map to navigate the vast sea of modernity. A territory full of contradictions, illusions, nostalgia for times past, bad readings, conspiracy theories. In short, The Invisible Fire is the map of us human beings, a beautiful novel that feeds knowledge and gives meaning to our lives, which is nothing but an attempt to analyze the enigma of the self".

Aggiustare l'universo - Raffaella Romagnolo

Set starting from October 1945, the following book was proposed by Lia Levi with the following reasoning: "Pages and pages of excellent literature flow to untangle the dramatic secret that broke a family during the war and persecution against the Jews. And Raffaella Romagnolo has perfectly succeeded in a meticulous and original research work. Yet this is not the only merit of the novel, what strikes even more is the suggestive technique that the author adopts to tell. The story is narrated by a multitude of characters but not, as almost always happens, as different points of view of the same event. No, each of them offers us a glimpse of themselves on different episodes and times. The connection will not be grasped until the end, with the threads beginning to intertwine in a fascinating story in which the little mute is the central pivot. And it will be nothing less than a cat the key that will allow us to emerge from the drama".

Chi dice e chi tace - Chiara Valerio

The following novel was proposed by Matteo Motolese with the following reasoning: "Of the people we admire, desire, even those close to us, we know only what we see. Very little, therefore. This is also the case for Vittoria, a woman full of dark corners who in the seventies arrives in Scauri, a town in southern Lazio where she knows she will not meet people from her previous life. Vittoria arrives in Scauri accompanied by a girl, Mara, who is so young that she could be her daughter but who is not. With her, Vittoria lives for twenty years. Opening a dog pension, swimming every morning, spending time lightly in a life that seems beneath her qualities. Everyone watches her, in the village; over the years, her elegant figure becomes familiar, the questions quiet down. Then one day Vittoria is found dead in her bathtub. An unlikely end, which the town accepts because it knows how to understand misfortunes and remains silent. This is where the novel begins. Chiara Valerio chooses the form of inquiry, investigation to write a novel of rare intensity, rhythmically with extraordinary narrative skill, on the ambiguity of our desires, on how what we know about others - those we admire, love - but also about ourselves is an elusive, partial, ever-changing horizon".

Invernale - Dario Voltolini

This book, defined as a jewel of fiction, delicacy, and memory, was proposed by Sandro Veronesi with the following reasoning: "There are books so beautiful as to astound. What do they have more than others? Perhaps the author has already written other very beautiful books, is a known, appreciated figure, their strengths are well known, and the quality of their writing should not surprise anyone: yet in those books they do, they surprise, astound. Why? Because all of a sudden it seems that that author was born to write that particular book, and that all the others they wrote before were nothing but a step to write it? I don't know the answer to these questions, but I know that every time I open a book, every single time, in my heart I hope it's one of those books, so I can find myself once again astounded by the beauty and confused in this mystery. Winter by Dario Voltolini is one of those books".